[BLOG] Top 10 Ingredients Used in Livestock Feed
04-09-2012 10:15:36 | by: Administrator | hits: 8421 | Tags:

By Tayo Solagbade

This write-up does not provide an exhaustive listing of feed ingredients used for all livestock feed. Instead it focuses on those most frequently used, especially by poultry and catfish farmers in this part of the world.

I describe them based on three key groups (i.e. energy sources, protein sources, and Vitamins/Minerals sources) required to prepare a complete and balanced ration.

I describe them based on three key groups (i.e. energy sources, protein sources, and Vitamins/Minerals sources) required to prepare a complete and balanced ration.

A. Energy Sources

 1. Maize/Corn grits are a very common energy source for feed formulation. Persistent competition for this ingredient amongst farmers, industries (e.g. breweries) and humans, limits its availability and affordability. Smart farmers are actively exploring viable alternatives. E.g. Cassava grits: a non-cereal source, though this suffers a twin disadvantage of low protein, and need for processing to eliminate anti-nutritional factors.

2. Wheat Offals obtained from the outer covering of wheat grain during processing, are often used as binding agents in feed compounding. Wheat is a cereal, and like Maize, contributes energy (as well as protein) in rations. The offals have some protein content, and are therefore used as variable feed components during feed formulation.

3. Noodles Waste is obtained from the noodles factory. It has gained popularity as an adaptable feed ingredient. Some farmers report using raw noodles to “fatten” catfish. It offers useful “energy” contributions – and has decent protein content.

Wheat Offals and Noodles Waste are much cheaper than Maize, making them attractive as complementary alternatives to it.

B. Protein Sources

Protein facilitates tissue synthesis for growth, body repairs, and reproductive processes (e.g. egg formation). Its deficiency can lead to poor growth – such as improper feathering in poultry - and development of vice habits, like cannibalism.

4. Fish Meal (FM) has been used as a crucial protein source in livestock feed for years. Due to its animal origin, it is rich in all amino acids, making it great for rectifying amino acid deficiency. Amino acids balance in feed enables animals utilize important nutrients they need. Fish meal, which is mostly imported, is however expensive, more so now, with global economic downturns.

5. Soyabean Meal (SBM) is a plant based alternative to FM. The dangers posed by anti-nutritional factors present in it have been addressed by improved processing methods. It’s now used by more farmers today – but as a complement, and not a complete replacement for FM.

High imported fish meal prices, coupled with the threat of mycotoxin contamination in poorly stored Groundnut Cake (GNC), makes SBM enjoys much higher usage – though necessarily in combination with fish meal, to achieve a full amino acid profile in feed.

But rising prices and shortages of SBM are now facing farmers who depend on it.

Palm Kernel Cake (PKC) is a common and cheaper plant protein source. But a lower protein content of about 20%, coupled with high fibre content and low digestibility, mean it can only be used in moderate amounts, in combination with other less limited sources. Brewer’s Dried Grain (BDG) iSpent Grains, yeast.

6. Synthetic Amino Acids like feed grade Methionine and Lysine, make it possible to achieve good amino acid balance in compounded feeds, without using animal proteins.

Amino acids make up intact proteins, and are therefore of greater nutritional importance than the latter. Lysine aids growth in chicks and its absence can cause loss of feather pigmentation Methionine facilitates utilization of feed. It also reportedly reduces mortality, and cannibalism, while minimizing fat buildup and boosting egg size.

However, due to their expensive nature, farmers often use synthetic amino acids in combination with intact protein sources, like fish meal, to cost-effectively achieve the desired amino acid balance in their livestock feed.

C. Minerals & Vitamins Sources

Minerals enable skeletal tissue development and maintenance. Deficiency in diets can reduce egg production in poultry, and has been suspected to predispose birds to cannibalism.

7. Oyster/sea shells are commonly used sources of  Calcium (Ca).

8. Bone meal serves as a key source of Phosphorous (P).

Vitamins are organic compounds not synthesized in the body, but required in small amounts as co- enzymes or regulators of metabolism. For commercial livestock farming purposes, vitamins are added to feed in synthetic form to ensure effectiveness.

9. Vitamin/Mineral Premixes are added as fixed factor components during feed formulations. They do not contribute significant protein in the diet, but supply vitamins and trace minerals (Niacin, Biotin, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Iodine etc) needed by the animals.

10. Common Salt is also used as a fixed factor components in feed formulation (typically at 0.25 – 0.6% in diets). Animals need it for optimal health and physiological development.


What I have done above is to focus on ingredients I have observed to be:

(i). most commonly used in varying combinations - by majority of local farmers and feed makers - to formulate complete balanced rations, ready to be fed to farm animals. The following sample feed formula is for illustrative purposes based this article only:

S/N        Ingredient                          % In Ration

1             Maize                                       28

2             SBM                                          10

3             Wheat Offals                             25

4             Noodles                                    23

5             Fish Meal                                  1.6

6             Bone Meal                                 4

7             Oyster Shell                              8

8             Layers' Vit                               0.1 (i.e. premix)

9             Methionine                               0.1

10           Salt                                          0.2        

Total                                                   100%


(ii). readily locally available in adequate quantities in the marketplace - and feed mills.

If you are a livestock farmer or one aspiring, efforts being made to adopt viable alternative ingredients for preparing livestock feed cost-effectively should interest you.

Search this website for my two previous articles (which describe some useful progress that has been made in that regard) titled: (1). Reducing Catfish Feeding Cost (A Secret Weapon) and (2). 5 Proven Ways to Boost Farm Profits without Raising Prices.

Author Byline

Tayo Solagbade works as a Performance Improvement Specialist/multipreneur, with a bias for Farm Research & Extension Advisory Services provision. He is the author of the Practical Livestock Feed Formulation Handbook, and developer of its accompanying MS Excel-VB driven Feed Formulation spreadsheet software.


Visit Tayo’s Self-Development Nuggets™ blog to find out how you can get your FREE copy of his new Practical Guide to Important Feed Ingredients (with high resolution pictures, prices, nutrients, uses etc). When he’s not amazing clients with his superhuman skills (wink), Tayo works as the creative force behind his Cost-Saving Farm Business Ideas website, and the Public Speaking IDEAS newsletter (which he publishes to promote Burt Dubin's Public Speaking Mentoring service to experts working across the African continent).


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