Products help animals improve the digestion of food, build stronger skeletal systems and enhance lean muscle growth. The result is larger, healthier livestock and poultry. Our animal feed ingredients are broadly classified into cereal grains, protein meals, fats and oils, minerals, feed additives, and miscellaneous raw materials, such as roots and tubers.

feed ingredients

Cereals

Cereals are grasses that produce edible starchy grains, many of which can be used in poultry diets as an energy source. Although the starch in corn is highly digestible, most of the other grains contain antinutritional factors that interfere with digestion and/or the absorption of nutrients. These antinutritional factors include the nonstarch polysaccharides, often referred to as NSPs. NSPs cannot be broken down by the digestive enzymes poultry normally secrete in the small intestine (referred to as endogenous enzymes). As a result, the NSPs gel, increasing the viscosity of the intestinal contents. The increased intestinal viscosity reduces the availability of the nutrients in the feed. In addition, the presence of NSPs typically results in sticky droppings, which increase the moisture content of the litter. Litter that has a high moisture content can adversely affected air quality within the poultry house.

Barley is grown on areas of both irrigated and dry land in the United States. It is an early-maturing crop that offers agronomic advantages when used in crop rotation. Barley is considered a medium-energy grain. It has a low starch content, a high fiber content, and some antinutritional factors.

Corn, also called maize, is native to the Americas and was first cultivated by the American Indians. The corn plant is efficient at converting large amounts of sunlight into stable forms of chemical energy stored as starch, cellulose, and oil. Corn is the grain most routinely used in commercial poultry diets in the United States because it has a good energy content and is easy to digest. The amino acid profile of the protein in corn complements the amino acid profile of the other ingredients, such as soybean meal, typically used in feed. Alternative grains are typically evaluated in relation to corn.

Sorghum, also called milo and guinea corn, is a highly drought-resistant crop that is grown in many areas of the world, including the United States. Sorghum is only 3% to 5% lower in feeding value than corn. It is often less expensive than yellow corn. The level of tannins in sorghum limit its use in poultry diets. However, tannin-free varieties are now available, and as a result, sorghum can be substituted for corn in poultry diets with only minor changes in the amounts of other ingredients.

Wheat is often used in poultry diets in western Canada and parts of Europe. The husk of wheat detaches from the grain during threshing (unlike conventional barley and oats where the husk remains attached) reducing its fiber content.

Fats and Oils

Fats and oils provide a concentrated source of energy. Sources of fat include the following:

  • Tallow: Derived primarily from the rendering of beef offal
  • Lard or choice white grease: Derived primarily from the rendering of pork offal
  • Poultry fat: Derived from poultry offal
  • Feed-grade animal fat: Derived primarily from a mixture of rendered beef, pork, and/or poultry raw material
  • Yellow grease: Derived primarily from reprocessed restaurant grease and cooking oil
  • Blended animal-vegetable fat: Includes blends of different types and amounts of animal fats and vegetable oils from restaurant grease

In addition to providing concentrated energy, fats provide the following benefits:

  • Improved physical characteristics of feed
  • Decreased dustiness (feed loss is reduced by effective dust control)
  • Improved palatability of feed
  • Increased lubrication value of feed
  • Reduced particle separation, which helps maintain a uniform mixture of each ration
  • Possible contribution of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid

Protein Sources

The many possible protein sources for poultry feeds include the following:

  • Canola
  • Fish meal
  • Field peas
  • Meat and bone meal
  • Soybeans
  • Cereal by-products 

Canola

Canola is a variety of rapeseed that is low in glucosinolates in the oil and eruric acid in the meal. The name canola was coined to distinguish the plant from rapeseed, though in Europe canola is often referred to as double-zero rapeseed. Canola meal is a by-product of oil extraction from canola seeds.

Fish Meal

There are two basic types of fish meal. The first type is derived from fish, such as salmon and tuna, caught specifically for human consumption. The second type is derived from fish, such as herring, menhaden, and pollack, caught specifically for the production of fish meal.

Field Peas

Peas are grown in temperate regions but are used as a food source worldwide. Traditionally peas rejected from the food industry were used in poultry diets. Now there are varieties of field peas grown specifically for animal feeds.

Meat and Bone Meal

Meat and bone meal are derived from slaughter by-products recycled for use in animal feeds. They are pressure cooked (rendered) to produce a nutritional and economical feed ingredient.

Soybeans

Soybean meal is the dominant protein supplement used in poultry diets and is considered the standard to which alternative sources of feed protein sources are compared. Soybean meal has a high protein content, especially compared to other plant protein sources.

Cereal By-Products

Many of the cereal grains used as animal feed are also used for human consumption or the development of industrial products. The grains are cleaned and then either dry or wet milled. Dry milling removes the outer fibrous coating of the seed and is used in the production of flour. Wet milling is used in the production of sugar, starch, syrup and/or oil. Many of the by-products of both dry and wet milling are suitable for inclusion in poultry feeds.