Nutrition plays an essential role in improving the performance of livestock. Many farmers are concerned with meeting the nutritional needs of their animals with available ingredients to obtain optimum yield and profit.
Here is an extract of our free online training that held on Friday, 17th of July 2020, as we hosted Dr Oluyemi Uduak, Founder of Vantage Agro-Allied, to discuss the basics of feed formulation for livestock farming
Basic Factors to Consider in Feed Formulation
Nutrient Requirement of the Animal
In formulating feed, it is essential to consider the nutrient requirement of your livestock. That is the class of animals such as broilers, layers, turkey, fish or others. Why do they need the nutrients? How much of these nutrients does a healthy diet require? How will the body of the animals utilize these nutrients for growth and maintenance?
The nutrient requirement of various categories of livestock differs. For example, to formulate feed for broilers, their nutrient requirement differs from turkey. Also, as the animals grow, their nutrient requirement differs. For instance, in formulating feed for broiler starter, from day-old to 3 weeks, their nutrient requirement differs from those of 3 to 6 weeks and above. With the feed ingredients at your disposal, you have to decide to meet the nutritional requirement of the animals so that you will not formulate a diet that will fail to meet the nutrient requirement of the animals.
Also, taking cognizant of the digestibility of the nutrients to be supplied in a feed formula is vital to avoid overloading the animals with these nutrients. Of course, the animals need protein, they need amino acids, but what quantity of these do they need? You must supply them the exact nutrient they will need.
About forty specific nutrients need to be present in the diet to support life and for growth and optimum production. These are energy, as well as 13 essential amino acid, vitamins, essential minerals and fatty acids. In addition to these nutrients, you need to make sure that whatever feed ingredient that you have at your disposal can meet the needs of the animals.
Availability of Feed Ingredients
Apart from the nutrient requirement of animals and the digestibility of the nutrient by the animals, the feed ingredients at your disposal also determine your feed formula. The whole essence of nutrition is to define the nutrient animals require to perform at a certain level, then you need to identify the feed ingredient that will supply the nutrient.
Not all available feed ingredient can be used because though they may contain the nutrient quite all alright, but the nutrients may not be readily available. You need to identify a suitable source of those nutrients and match these two in a diet formulation to obtain a balanced diet.
Balanced animal diets are composed of feed ingredients whose components can be digested and absorbed by the animals so that the nutrient they contain can be useful. There is no point giving blood meal or feather meal that is very high in protein content when your animals cannot absorb them.
Therefore, it is important to know the nutrient required by the animals and the feed ingredients e.g. maize for energy, soybean meal or GNC for protein, or, wheat offal or corn bran for fibre.
That variability of having different ingredients at your disposal that you can play around with is what makes feed formulation interesting. That is, what you feed your animal with for this week might not be what you give them the following week. You may decide to increase the weight of your animals by changing their diet and then you get an excellent result.
Once you know these things, you are on the proper track for feed formulation. That is, when you know the nutrient requirement, identify feed ingredient that you have and cost implication, then you can start your feed formulation.
Cost of Feed Production
When formulating feed, there is a need to take note of the cost. To ensure profitability, the cost of the feed formulation must not be on the high side.
Research has shown that about 70% of the total cost in livestock production is feed.
So, when you are formulating your feed, you have to decide that the formula you are choosing and the required ingredients you are using are supplied economically. Also, note that in considering cost, it should not be at the detriment of the animals. That is if you are trying to minimize cost, the quality of the feed should not be compromised. You have to be economical, but not to the detriment of the animals.
Methods of Diet Formulation
After knowing the class of the animal you are formulating feed for, their nutrient requirement, and ingredient available to use. Then you can now talk about formulating the diet.
There are 3 main methods for formulating the diet;
- Pearson Square Method
- Trial and Error Method
- Computer Formulation Method
Pearson Square Method
This method is cumbersome because it involves manual calculation, unlike the computer method that has come to make feed formulation easy.
Trial and Error Method
The method takes into account all the needed nutrients, calculated and put into proportions that can be adjusted to the required nutrient level.
Also known as the Linear Programming, it is a very easy and simple method of feed formulation when compared to the Pearson Square method. That is, all you need to do is input your ingredient in the software to get the desired nutrient requirement. And if what you get is not to your satisfaction, you can easily adjust the formula to get your desired result. That is, you can use the same ingredient and have a different formula and still get the same result. There is no standard formula you have to follow, so you can play with it depending on the needs of the animals (whether you want to increase or decrease their weight), the ingredient that is available to you at that time or whether the nutrients are digestible.
In conclusion, what you feed your animals with is actually what they will show on the outside. If you are feeding them well, you will see it in them and If you are not feeding them well, you will also see it because what you give to them is what they will give back. If your broilers are well fed, in two weeks you should know the certain weight you will be able to get.
Feeding your animals with a well-formulated and balanced diet will reduce the challenge of disease, as they become susceptible to diseases if not properly nourished. To build up their immune system, the feed is what you need to pay attention to. Once you get your feed formula right as a farmer, then you are already on the right path of getting better productivity for your livestock.
Question: “Would you recommend fermenting feed for commercial layers? How do you measure the different raw materials during mixing? Do you add the least raw materials first or vice versa?”- Wal Ibru
Response: Feed fermentation aids digestibility and makes nutrients readily available to livestock, but it involves a lot of technicalities that requires a professional. If you do not get the fermentation process right, it can harm the animals if they consume such feed. Hence, if you are not a professional or you do not have a professional on your farm, feed your livestock without fermenting the feed.
Question: “What is the cost of formulating layers feed?” – Chinky
Response: The price is not fixed. It depends on your feed formula.
Question: “What feed will you suggest for Peacock birds?”
Response: Their nutrient requirements will determine the type of feed you can give them.
Question: “Please is formulation cost the same as purchasing from the market” – Ebube Leo
Response: No. Sometimes, the price is lower or higher depending on your formula. However, it’s always easier to reduce cost when you formulate the feed by yourself rather than buying from the market.
Question: “In formulating feeds, can I use guinea corn or millet?”- Francis Ajim
Response: Yes, you can use millet or guinea corn to replace maize but not completely.
Question: “Should weather conditions be considered in feed formulation?”- Edem
Response: Weather conditions can’t affect feed formulation but the storage of the finished feeds.