Poultry requires greater nutritional attention than cattle and other ruminants since birds are simple-stomached and toothless. Poultry nutrition is typically set forth in terms of crude protein and energy content per kilogram of feed.
The nutritional needs of birds vary considerably depending on their intended usage and age. To illustrate feeds for egg-laying hens are quite different from feeds for cocks and non-egg-laying hens. In a commercial facility, feed accounts for about 60 to 70 percent of the cost of meat and egg production. As a result, any effort to improve poultry rearing profitability must include nutritional management.
Poultry Feed Ingredients
Water, proteins, carbohydrates, fats and oils, minerals, vitamins, and feed additives are some of the most essential animal feeds ingredients for poultry. Their usage is determined by the nutrients’ digestibility and bioavailability for birds’ metabolic processes.
A balanced diet for chickens in particular must take into account digestibility, bioavailability, the presence of anti-nutritional and toxic components, and so on. The amount of crude protein in rations is typically 16-28 percent and the calorie count ranges from 2500 to 3200 kcal per kilogram of feed.
Feed makers use combinations of feedstuffs in the poultry nutrition ration because no single feed ingredient can deliver all of the required nutrients. When micronutrient components and feed additives are included, the diet may be made with as few as 5-6 ingredients or up to 15-18 if other elements such as food additives are considered.
This has resulted in a greater emphasis on feed manufacturing quality control processes. Poultry farmers who prepare their own feed frequently observe significant variances in the growth of their birds even though their formulations appear to be consistent. This might be due to changes in the nutritional quality of each raw material’s components.
Non-Nutritional Feed Additives
Particular compounds can be mixed in poultry feed to give it additional properties. These are the most common ones:
- Antibiotics – aureomycin, bacitracin, procaine penicillin, streptomycin, Terramycin, and other antibiotics prevent infections and promote the growth of young chicks
- Arsenicals – supplements that also improve the growth of young chicks
- Drugs – deworming drugs, histomonostats, coccidiostats, and other drugs prevent diseases like roundworms, coccidiosis, etc.
- Hormones – enhance carcass quantity and quality
- Antioxidants – keeps fat and certain other vulnerable compounds like vitamin E from oxidizing
- Antifungals – prevent fungal diseases
- Flavoring agents – improves the flavor of poultry
- Pigments – xanthophyll and other carotenoid sources brighten the color of egg yolks
- Enzymes – protease, xylanase, and other proteins catalyze specific biochemical reactions to improve metabolic processes
- Probiotics – live cultures of natural and beneficial bacilli promote gut health
Other substances that can be added include emulsifiers, stabilizers, preservatives, food colors, flavors, sequestrants, anticaking agents, acids, buffers and bases, firming and crisping agents, and humectants.
As you can see, poultry nutrition is quite complicated, and formulated diets may include a variety of components. You want animal feeds ingredients that are good for poultry so that these birds, in turn, will be good for human consumption.