For most chicken farmers, making your own feed or formulating what to feed chickens is cost effective and the best way to prevent loss due to low quality food. Commercial food has lowered in both quality and quantity over the years and the end results have affected farmers in the form of slower chicken growth, less egg production, disease and even death.
It has become easier however, to gather the raw materials for making your own feed, especially after harvest season. Farmers who make their own feed can exert quality control, making sure that their stock gets the best feed possible for growth and health, all while defending against disease, pest and illness. It is not difficult to make your own feed as long as you are mindful of the nutritional needs of your birds.
It is always important to research poultry feed ingredients first and ensure that you are getting exactly what it is that you need for your stock. The feed for breeds can differ and you need to make sure you are giving your poultry the best nutrients possible.
There are many ingredients that can used in poultry feed formulation and they all add different nutrients to the poultry nutrition. Some of these are additives that can be added to increase the potency of the feed you are providing for your birds.
- Yellow maize: provides vitamin A and carbohydrate.
- White maize: provides carbohydrate.
- Rice bran: provides carbohydrate and acts as midlings.
- Wheat offals: provide carbohydrate and act as midlings.
- Guinea corn: provides carbohydrate.
- Palm kernel cake: provides lipids, vitamin, and proteins.
- Coconut cake: provides lipids, vitamins, proteins.
- Bean meal: provides proteins, carbohydrate, lipids.
- Groundnut cake: provides protein, lipids, and vitamins.
- Pigeon pea: provides protein, lipids, and vitamins.
- Bone meal: Provides minerals like calcium and phosphorus.
- Oyster shell and grot: Minerals like calcium and phosphorus.
- Blood meal: Provides protein, minerals like iron and copper.
- Cotton seed meal: Provides protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and lipids.
- Linseed meal: Provides protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and lipids.
- Fish meal: Provides proteins, lipids and vitamins.
- Common salt or salt lick: Provides mineral salts like sodium, iodine, chlorine and so many others.
In poultry feed formulation, the technique that farmers use is called the Pearson Square Method. It involves the determination of the digestible crude protein or DCP. This is the basic nutritional requirement that is required in any kind of poultry feed formulation.
This requires knowledge of crude protein content of all the ingredients for your feed formulation. Below is a list of common feed components that can be used for poultry nutrition with their DCP percentages.
- Fishmeal or Omena has 55% crude protein content
- Sunflow has 35%
- Soya has 45%
- Whole maize — 8.23%
- Maize bran — 7%
- Sunflower — 35%
Once you know this information you must then determine the percentage needed for your specific stock. Feed for layers, for example, needs to be at least 18% crude protein.
Each category of chicken has its nutritional requirement. For example, if we want to make feed for layers, the feed should have at least 18 per cent crude protein. Growers should have between 16-18% crude protein and broilers should have between 22-24% crude protein. This is important to know when you are working on broiler feed formulation, or layer feed formulation.
Using those poultry feed ingredients you would need to calculate the percentage for crude protein in each ingredient to ensure that you reached the correct percentage for your specific type of bird.
For example if you want to make 70kg for layers, you might use the following formula:
- 34kg of whole maize
- 10kg of maize bran
- 12kg of soya
- 8kg of omena (fishmeal)
- 6kg of lime (as a calcium source)
The calculation to make it sure that this has 18% DCP is simple, as shown below:
- Whole maize — 34kg x 8.23 ÷100 = 2.80 %
- Soya — 12kg x 45kg ÷ 100 = 5.40 %
- Omena — 8 kg x 55kg ÷ 100 = 4.40 %
- Lime — 6 kg x 0 kg ÷ 100 = 0.00%
2.80%+5.40%+4.40%+0.00%= 13.30 Total Crude Protein.
Then you should divide this percent by 70kg and then multiply it by 100 to get the percentage in one bag of feed. Doing that equation will look something like this:
13.30 ÷70 ×100 = 19%
With the formula you can see that the feed has 19% total DCP and therefore is perfect layer feed formulation.
To make sure that your poultry is getting the most out of your feed formulation you need to take into account the additional nutrients they may need aside from the crude protein in their diet. It can be supplemented with vitamins, amino acids and minerals, such as the lime in the above example.
It is also crucial to consider the daily feeding requirements for your stock depending on its age and purpose. Certain birds need certain amount of nutrition at different stages of their lives. Meeting these needs will help you to maintain a healthy farm with thriving poultry.
Taking all of this into account is the best way to make sure that you are providing the best feed formulation to your birds on a consistent basis, preventing loss and making sure that they are healthy, happy and illness free. Moreover, making your own feed is almost 50-70% cheaper than buying commercial feed that’s the reason why so many farmers are turning to making their own feed.