Feed Ingredients

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Wheat grains (Source: Aust. Chicken Meat Fed.)

Feed ingredients for poultry diets are selected for the nutrients they can provide, the absence of anti-nutritional or toxic factors, their palatability or effect on voluntary feed intake and their cost.

The key nutrients that need to be supplied by the dietary ingredients are energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. More information on measuring the nutrient composition of ingredients and the process of formulating poultry feeds is available in the section on feed formulation. In Australian poultry diets, energy is mainly provided by cereal grains sometimes supplemented with relatively small amounts of fats. Protein is provided from both vegetable and animal sources, such as oilseed meals, legumes and abattoir and fish processing by-products. Some vitamins and minerals are provided by most ingredients but these are generally supplemented through a premix added to the diet. Diets may also contain additives for specific purposes. These are discussed in more detail in the section on feed additives.

The nutrient value of feed ingredients for poultry will vary depending on the species, variety or cultivar, the season, the source location, processing and storage conditions and the class of poultry being fed. Different classes of poultry differ in their ability to digest and absorb various nutrients, while the other factors will affect the intrinsic nutrient value of the ingredient.

Cereal grains

Barley grains

The main cereal grains used in poultry diets in Australia are wheat, sorghum and barley. Other grains used to a lesser extent include rye, triticale and oats. Although the amounts and types of cereal grains included in poultry diets will depend largely on their current costs relative to their nutritive values, care must be taken to avoid making large changes to the cereal component of diets being fed to poultry as sudden changes can cause digestive upsets that may reduce productivity and predispose the birds to disease.

The quality of cereal grains will also depend on the seasonal and storage conditions. Poor growing or storage conditions can lead to grains with lower than expected energy content or contamination with toxin-producing organisms such as fungi and ergots. The average nutrient composition of different cereal grains is shown in Table 1.

 

Table 1. Nutrient Composition of Cereal Grains
Ingredient Crude protein
(%)
Met. energy
(kcal/kg)
Calcium
(%)
Av. phosphorous
(%)
Lysine (%)
Wheat 13.0 3153 0.05 0.20 0.5
Sorghum   9.0 3263 0.02 0.15 0.3
Barley 11.5 2795 0.10 0.20 0.4
Rye 12.5 2734 0.05 0.18 0.5
Triticale 15.4 3110 0.05 0.19 0.4
Oats 12.0 2756 0.10 0.20 0.4

 

Vegetable protein sources

Field peas (Source: Aust. Chicken Meat Fed.)

The main vegetable protein sources used in Australian poultry diets are meal by-products resulting from commercial vegetable oil production, such as soybean, canola, cottonseed and sunflower meals and legumes, such as peas and lupins. Many oilseeds and legumes contain chemicals that can have detrimental effects when fed to poultry. These chemicals are called antinutritive factors. Some of these antinutritive factors can be destroyed by heat and so are not a problem in heat-treated meals. New cultivars of some oilseeds and legumes have been developed that are naturally low in antinutritive factors and so higher levels of the unprocessed grains can be included in poultry diets without ill-effect. The average nutrient composition of vegetable protein sources are shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Nutrient composition of vegetable protein sources

Ingredient Crude protein
(%)
Met. energy
(kcal/kg)
Calcium
(%)
Av. phosphorous
(%)
Lysine
(%)
Soybean meal 48.0 2557 0.20 0.37 3.2
Canola meal 37.5 2000 0.66 0.47 2.2
Cottonseed meal 41.0 2350 0.15 0.48 1.7
Sunflower meal 46.8 2205 0.30 0.50 1.6
Peas 23.5 2550 0.10 0.20 1.6
Lupins 34.5 3000 0.20 0.20 1.7

 

Animal protein sources

The main animal protein sources used in poultry diets are meat meal, meat and bone meal, fish meal, poultry by-product meal, blood meal and feather meal. Further information on animal protein sources in poultry diets is available in the section on animal protein meals. The average nutrient composition of common animal protein sources are shown in Table 3.

Table 3. Nutrient composition of animal protein sources

Ingredient Crude protein
(%)
Met. energy
(kcal/kg)
Calcium
(%)
Av. phosphorous
(%)
Lysine
(%)
Meat meal 50.0 2500 8.00 4.00 3.6
Fish meal 60.0 2720 6.50 3.50 5.3
Poultry by-product meal 60.0 2950 3.50 2.10 3.4
Blood meal 80.0 2690 0.28 0.28 6.9
Feather meal 85.0 3016 0.20 0.75 1.7

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