Poultry farmers spend a significant amount of time focused on finding chicken feed ingredients that provide high-quality nutrition to their flocks. Modern methods of farming have introduced the ability to enhance the nutritional properties of chicken feed ingredients with supplements and additives. This is good for both the farmer and the feed manufacturer or producer. High-quality feed additives enhance the overall economics of feed for manufacturers and producers.
Some of the most common additives include pellet binders, moisture optimizers, and grain and feed conditioners. For farmers, the benefits of chicken feed additives are two-fold: (1) longer shelf-life and preservation of feed, and (2) enhanced nutrition that improves the value of poultry.
Chicken Feed Ingredients
The seven basic chicken feed ingredients
- Cereal grains
- Cereal byproducts
- Fats and oils
- Protein meals
- Miscellaneous raw ingredients, such as tubers and roots
- Minerals and vitamins
- Feed additives
Cereal grains typically make up the greatest amount of chicken feed ingredients. It’s a cost-effective component that helps fulfill energy requirements for chickens. Unfortunately, cereal grains are highly susceptible to mold, bacteria, and rot. Grains that are improperly stored can harbor mycotoxins which can negatively affect the health and growth of the chickens. Thanks to the preservation properties of feed additives, cereal grains can be used as ingredients in chicken feed without going bad during extended periods of storage.
Key nutrients that need to be supplied to flocks through chicken feed ingredients include amino acids that are contained in proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Fats, oils, and protein meals comprise the remainder of a chicken’s dietary energy requirements.
How Supplements Improve Health and Performance
Supplements help increase the productivity and health of chicken by increasing the nutritional output provided by the feed itself. Supplements can save farmers and feed manufacturers substantial amounts of money by increasing yields and prolonging shelf-life. These features allow for an easier transportation process and result in less wear and tear on production machinery.
Common additives and supplements:
- Toxin binders
- Mold inhibitors
- Direct fed microbials
- Organic minerals
- Feed conditioners
- Pellet binders
- Digestive enzymes
- Feeding effectors
- Anti-stress agents
Improving Chicken Feed Ingredient Value
Effective supplements will make feed processing more profitable for livestock feed manufacturers by boosting the overall value and nutritional qualities of the feed they produce and sell to farmers and bulk buyers. These nutrient-rich supplements can also help sick and stressed birds return to optimal health. An added benefit of supplements is that they are easy to apply and can limit metal pollution through chicken’s fecal waste.
When Good Chicken Feed Goes Bad
Mold, bacteria, and rot all destroy chicken feed nutrition, rendering entire supplies useless. Mold is especially expensive to eradicate. As it grows, it consumes the nutrients contained in feed. Chickens that consume moldy feed will be exposed to mycotoxins which can cause significant health problems, depending on the portions consumed.
Even when “best practices” are used, mold can still grow on the feed. Using additives or supplements as a mold inhibitor is highly recommended. This will minimize the risk of mycotoxin production in feeds and grains and prevent degradation of the nutritional content of the feed.
There is no set formula for which ingredients must be used in chicken feed, the general rule of thumb is that nutritional requirements need to be met. To provide optimal levels of nutrition, supplements should be considered. Additives and supplements play an important role in the value of chicken feed ingredients. They have the ability to not only inhibit the growth of harmful organisms in chicken feed, but to enhance the nutrients consumed by chickens.