How to Get the Best Nutrition for your Flock

By Justina Caldas, World Technical Team Nutrition Specialist
To produce a top quality flock and help your birds reach their genetic potential, it’s necessary to provide the right environment to support their growth and development. This includes the right nutrition to make that growth possible. Plus, the right mix of nutrients not only impacts the health and performance of your flock but also your bottom line. Justina Caldas, World Technical Team Nutrition Specialist, recommends the following 5 tips to get the most from your feed program.

 


 


Know What’s In Your Feed.

Poultry feed, especially broiler feeds in China are primarily corn-soybean meal type with additional protein ingredients including cottonseed meal, rapeseed meal, and corn by-products (Han, 2012). China is the largest soybean import country; therefore, analyze your ingredients because soybean meals can vary on quality and nutritional content depending on the country of origin. Develop a historical nutrient composition that will help you decide which supplier you want to buy next.


Choose Ingredients Wisely.

Modern broilers have a great genetic potential to grow with ingredients that won’t compete with human food. Broilers use multiple by-products ingredients to make a great source of animal protein for the humankind. It is a nutritionist’s job to make sure the feed ingredients for our broilers don’t compete with human food, use your by-product ingredients wisely by creating a data base analysis, and use real time formulation for your diets at a fair cost.


Manage Moisture Content.

Since corn represents the largest percentage of most poultry diets (>50%), high moisture levels will dilute important nutrients such as protein and energy in the feed. Evaluating the moisture content of your ingredients will help reduce the risk of bacterial and fungus growth, and it will also reduce the amount of additives needed to store the feed. This starts by implementing a quality control program at the feed mill. Work with your supplier and communicate your quality specifications to be sure that the corn you are paying for is exactly what you are getting. To begin, first analyze your feed. The historic moisture values of this feed will help to decide the minimum and maximum moisture content for your corn.

In the U.S. and many other countries, the maximum moisture content for corn is < 15-16 percent, but this could vary due to availability and price. It is up to you to educate your supplier on your needs or have an agreement on the quality of your corn. Moisture is just one consideration; aflatoxin (< 20 ppb, could vary due to legislation or company policy) content will also need to be checked for the corn to be accepted.


 


Consider the Cost of Additives and By-Products.

Alternative ingredients, also called by-products, help reduce feed cost; however, there many additional considerations such as:

  1. What are you actually getting? For example: rice could have many by-product names, such as rice bran, rice hulls, rice polish, rice grain, etc. Each of these by-products has a different nutritional composition. Make sure you know exactly the nutritional values of your by-products, and the inclusion level that works best for your animals.
  2. Conduct a basic proximate analysis to measure the moisture, protein, fat, fiber and ash content of your feed. Make sure it matches the agreed-upon content from your supplier.
  3. Limit the additives. When your feed is high quality, and the storage time in the farms is less than 3 weeks, you need fewer additives to preserve your feed.


Visit Your Supplier In-Person.

There are many sources that will provide detailed analysis of your ingredients, but it’s your job to go and visit your supplier, visit your feed mill and make sure what you have on paper is what you actually have physically in your feed mill.

In summary, develop a quality control program for your ingredients and feeds in your feed mill. Evaluate your feed and know what formulations are best for your flock. Form good working relationships with your feed suppliers so you know you’re getting exactly what you paid for and exactly what your birds need.

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