Poultry Feed nutrients you ought to know in and out
PROTEINS IN POULTRY FEEDS
Proteins are made up of more than 23 organic compounds containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur. They are called amino acids. The properties of a protein molecule are determined by the number, kind and sequencing of the amino acids that comprise it. The principal products produced by poultry are composed of protein. On a dry-weight basis, the body of a mature broiler is more than 65% protein, and the contents of an egg are about 50% protein. Scientists learned many years ago that these amino acids were really the essential nutrients, rather than the protein molecule itself. Chicken tissues have the ability to make some of the required amino acids if the other amino acids are in adequate supply. Feed tags only show the amount of protein guaranteed in the feed but give no indication of the levels of individual amino acids. Amino acid analysis is very expensive and specialized. In order to insure that amino acid needs are met, the nutritionist will include a variety of feedstuffs that are good protein sources. Multiple feed ingredients are necessary because no single ingredient is an adequate source of all the required amino acids. The main protein sources for poultry feeds are animal proteins such as fish meal and meat and bone meal; and plant proteins such as soybean meal and corn gluten meal.
Fats IN POULTRY FEEDS
Fats are important sources of energy for today’s poultry diets because they contain more than twice as much energy as any other feed ingredient. This trait makes fat an important tool for the proper formulation of starting and growing diets. Fat makes up more than 40% of the dry egg contents and about 17% of the dry weight of a market broiler. Fats in feeds are also important for the absorption of vitamins A, D3, E and K, and as a source of essential fatty acids. These essential fatty acids are responsible for membrane integrity, hormone synthesis, fertility, and hatchability. For most commercially produced poultry feeds, animal fat, poultry fat or yellow grease would be the source of supplemental fat.
MINERALS IN POULTRY FEEDS
This nutrient class is divided into the macrominerals (those needed in relatively large amounts) and the micro- or trace minerals. Although microminerals are required only in small amounts, the lack of an adequate dietary supply can be just as detrimental to poultry as a lack of one of the macrominerals. Minerals have a number of important functions in the body. The most widely recognized of these is the formation of straight, strong and rigid bones. Laying hens also require minerals, primarily calcium, for eggshell formation. Minerals are needed for the formation of blood cells, blood clotting, enzyme activation, energy metabolism, and for proper muscle function. Grains are low in minerals, so all poultry feeds contain supplemental sources. Calcium, phosphorus and salt are needed in the greatest amounts. Ground limestone and oystershell are good sources of calcium. Dicalcium or defluorinated phosphates are the customary carriers of phosphorus and calcium for poultry diets. Microminerals such as iron, copper, zinc, manganese and iodine are normally supplied through a trace mineral mix.
CARBOHYDRATES IN POULTRY FEEDS
arbohydrates make up the largest portion of a poultry diet. They are in greatest supply in plants, appearing there usually in the form of sugar, starches or cellulose. Starch is the form in which most plants store reserve energy, and it is the only complex carbohydrate which chickens can readily digest. The chicken does not have the enzyme systems required to digest cellulose and other complex carbohydrates, so it becomes part of the crude fiber component. Carbohydrates are a major energy source for poultry, but only ingredients containing starch, sucrose or simple sugars are efficient energy providers. A variety of grains, such as corn, wheat and milo, are important sources of carbohydrates in poultry diets.
VITAMINS IN POUTRY FEEDS
The 13 vitamins required by poultry are usually classified as fat-soluble or water-soluble. The fat-soluble group includes vitamins A, D3, E and K. The water-soluble vitamins are thiamin, riboflavin, nicotinic acid, folic acid, biotin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, vitamin B12 and choline. All these vitamins are essential for life and they must be provided in proper amounts for chickens to grow and reproduce. The egg normally contains sufficient vitamins to supply the needs of the developing embryo. For this reason, eggs are a good animal source of vitamins for the human diet. Vitamin A is needed for the health and proper functioning of the skin and lining of the digestive, reproductive and respiratory tracts. Vitamin D3 has an important role in bone formation and the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. The B vitamins are involved in energy metabolism and the metabolism of many other nutrients. Although some of these vitamins are abundant in feed ingredients, a vitamin premix is routinely used by the nutritionist to ensure adequate fortification.
FEED ADDITIVES IN POULTRY FEEDS
Poultry feeds often contain substances not directly concerned with meeting nutrient requirements. An antioxidant, for example, may be included to prevent rancidity of the fat in the diet, or to protect nutrients from loss by oxidation. Pellet binders may be used to improve the texture and firmness of pelleted feeds.. Coccidiostats are routinely used in broiler feeds and also in diets for rearing replacement pullets. Sometimes, antibiotics are included to stimulate the growth rate and feed efficiency of young chickens. If coccidiostats and/or antibiotics are in your feed, careful attention should be paid to feeding directions on the tag, and withdrawal times should be strictly followed. Hormones are not added to any poultry feeds.
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