Alternate and local ingredients have the potential to dramatically decrease dietary costs in broiler feed. However, to maintain broiler performance, the ingredients must be evaluated and tested to ensure optimal quality. Dr. Chet Wiernusz, Director of World Feed Milling and Nutrition at Cobb, explains the importance of analyzing every ingredient and how to keep feed disease-free. Besides the big three – maize, wheat and soybean meal – nutritionists can incorporate hundreds of other ingredients into broiler diets. As the price of ingredients has skyrocketed, costs are expected to remain high. Poultry companies and nutritionists must evaluate their programs for long-term sustainability and profitability. Feed represents over 68 percent of the poultry production cost. Because feed costs are such a large portion of operating costs, it is up to the nutritionist to evaluate the ingredients and nutrient density of broiler diets, as any superfluous cost can make or break a company. Every ingredient that adds cost must be justified. Any elements that fall under the rationale ‘I think a particular nutrient level or feed ingredient might work or help” must be changed or removed. It is also important to make decisions based on your company’s data. Every company has a unique set of variables and objectives; analyzing the facts and figures will help you make a decision that is right for your operation. The quality of all diets is entirely dependent on the quality of the raw materials. Textbook feeding values for raw materials are only a guide to the actual contribution that a particular ingredient may make to the final diet. If you are using local ingredients, make sure you have the correct nutritional specifications of the ingredient as well as an estimate of its nutrient variation. These are essential and pre-requisite for any diet. For major raw materials it is essential to monitor their actual composition. The quality of the diet is affected by: Total nutrient level and availability of essential nutrients; True metabolizable energy (TME); The proportion of saturated to unsaturated fats for starter diets (due to the limited ability of chicks to digest saturated fats); Anti-nutritional factors, e.g. histamines (biogenic amines) in fish meal, trypsin inhibitors in field beans; Toxins, e.g. mycotoxins produced in the field (ergot and fusarium in wheat) or in storage (aflatoxin); The addition of enzymes to improve the digestibility of wheat or other raw materials; The development of novel raw materials, e.g. processed vegetable protein products or new varieties of cereals with characteristics intended to make them especially suitable for feed manufacture. Preventing Disease Ingredients may be contaminated by a number of disease organisms, but those of primary concern are Salmonella and Campylobacter because of the health concerns for people. It is widely recognized that feed plays an important role in the spread of such organisms throughout the chicken industry. To achieve the objective of minimally contaminated broiler feed, it is important to monitor feed materials at the following key stages throughout the manufacturing process: Pre-Purchase: All incoming raw materials should be selected on the basis of routine bacteriological monitoring. This involves regular sampling based on the volume and frequency that each material is purchased. Storage and Distribution: Storage warehouses and dock discharge facilities should be periodically inspected to ensure that adequate attention is paid to vermin control. Feed Mill: The construction and management of the feed mill should be designed to ensure that there is no possibility of cross contamination from untreated materials. Feed processing lines should be discrete and the flow of product should always run to minimize final product contamination. The mill facilities must be clean. Heating mixed raw materials to high temperatures by using specialized milling equipment such as expanders, extruders and conditioners can significantly reduce bacterial contamination. The degree of bacterial kill is dependent on a combination of temperature, moisture and time. Total bacterial elimination is achievable, but it may be at the expense of important macro and micro nutrient availability. Post-Pelleting: Recontamination of heat-treated feed must be prevented. The critical mill area is post pelleting. The hot pellets should be cooled as rapidly as possible by blowing only clean, filtered, cold air through the stream of product. Condensation in this area should be eliminated, since it provides an environment that will allow bacteria to survive and multiply. Delivery: Feed delivery vehicles are also an important link in the chain of biosecurity. It is an advantage to use vehicles specifically dedicated to the delivery of feed, rather than general-purpose haulers or farm vehicles. All vehicles must be regularly and thoroughly cleaned, both inside and outside, particularly the discharge system. Alternate and/or local ingredients have the potential to dramatically decrease dietary cost. To maintain broiler performance, the ingredients must be evaluated and tested to ensure optimal quality. To get more nutrition information, visit our Cobb Academy.