Broilers are early maturing poultry that often reach the target weight in approximately 6 weeks. As such, they should be provided with sufficient well-balanced diets from birth throughout the entire production phase. Feed is most critical during the first stages and should be maintained accordingly. In order to do so, farmers must be aware of various broiler starter feed ingredients else they run the risk of loss. While commercially produced feeds are often preferred, they are hard maintain, and so natural broiler starter feed ingredients can be adopted. Some of these ingredients are even utilized in the production of commercial feeds. Grain, soybean meal and mineral feed additives are the major ingredients for broiler starter feeds. While some additional ingredients maybe used, these form the basis of all formulated feed.

Soybean Meal

Proteins are of the utmost importance to livestock diets, including poultry. As a matter of fact, protein is used to distinguish between various types of broiler starter feed ingredients. Protein feeds usually command higher prices and therefore some farmers struggle to provide sufficient amounts to poultry. This problem is even more pronounced where large herds are involved. The consequence is underfed broiler chicks that are slow to mature and weigh less than desired. Soybean meal is an effective protein supplementary feed. It is the standard to which alternative protein sources are compared. Most commercially produced broiler creep feeds contain a significant amount of soybean meal. This is because of its superior protein value which is required by growing chicks. Soybean meal has a very good amino acid balance and contains high amounts of lysine, tryptophane, threonine and isoleucine, which are often lacking in cereal grains. It contains approximately 43 to 43% protein content and 3% crude fibre. Soybean meal provides broiler chicks with sufficient proteins for the development of bones, muscles and organs. Poultry fed broiler starter feed ingredients rich is protein tend to have larger carcasses in comparison to their counterparts. Protein feeds also help to ensure timeous maturity of broiler chicken. The superior protein value of soybean meal complements that of corn, the primary energy source in poultry diets. An important point to note is that whole soybeans contain an anti-nutritional factor, trypsin inhibitor. Therefore it is advisable to roast soybeans prior to inclusion in broiler dietary plans.

 

Grain

Grainy feed constitutes a large amount of broiler chick feed. The dietary plan of young birds is made up of a range of grainy feed including wheat, oats and barley. Oat and barley feed are however provided in rations of up to approximately 25% of the overall meal. Note that these broiler starter feed ingredients should be gradually introduced to livestock so as to prevent health issues that can temper with productivity. Below are widely used broiler starter feed ingredients:

 

Wheat

Wheat is among the most popular broiler starter feed ingredients. It has been used as poultry feed for decades across the globe. Wheat can be fed to broiler chicks of any age. It is considered as the major component of broiler diets. The energy content of wheat is 94% to 96% in comparison to maize and it is made up of a slightly higher protein value. It also has higher amino acids, lysine and tryptophan than maize. Wheat contains gluten, which is advantageous in the making of pellets because it eliminates the need for pellet binders. The addition of whole wheat in the broiler diet plan improves carcass characteristics. To add on, it enhances feed efficiency since the use of whole wheat allows for better utilization of excesses of nutrients in commercial feeds. Agricultural experts state that provision of wheat feed to broiler chicks is advantageous because it improves their digestive tracts, increasing the birds’ ability to resist coccidiosis.

 

Maize

Maize is also a major broiler starter feed ingredient. Similar to wheat, it is a highly famed feed that has been in use for many years in a variety of countries worldwide.  Agricultural research also state the same, indicating that maize is by far the most commonly used cereal grain in the diets of intensively reared poultry. It is often ground to produce crumbles that are smaller is size for ease of consumption as well as digestion. Maize is a rich source of energy required by broiler chicks. It contributes approximately 65% of metabolisable energy and 20% of protein in a broiler starter diets. The upside of grain broiler starter feed ingredients is that chicks do not require grit as maize crumbles are useful in facilitating easy digestion. According to some farmers, yellow corn is fattening therefore can be used to improve growth and carcass weight of broiler chickens. In addition, high energy fattening feeds keep chicks warm in the winter because they fuel metabolism. Broiler starter feed ingredients are often mixed to achieve a higher nutrient content, for example maize and wheat. Despite its highly famed nutritional value, maize is a poor source of vitamins and minerals, and so require suitable supplementary feed. Maize is best paired with soybean meal including feed additives to produce a well-balanced meal for broiler chicks.

 

Feed Additives

Morden broiler production methods strive to make the necessary improvements with regards to productivity. As such, commercially produced starter feeds are made readily available to farmers across the globe. The types of broiler starter ingredients used to make commercial feed have a superior nutritional value and are mixed in a manner that satisfies the needs of broiler chicks. Commercial feeds often consists of feed additives which are either added to the mash or crumb to ensure a proper balance of nutrients and minerals. The commonly used feed additives include calcium, vitamins and amino acids or proteins, especially in broiler chicks given poor quality grains with little or no benefit to health. Other popular feed additives for broiler starter feed ingredients consists of trace minerals such as sodium chloride, phosphate, carbonate, phytase, phytogenics and xylanase. Farmers ought to be aware of the nutritional value of broiler starter feed ingredients so as to provide relevant feed additives. Furthermore, some starter feeds are medicated. They contain antibiotics to protect broiler chicks from diseases. Other antibiotics are used as growth promoting hormones. It is advisable for farmers to select broiler starter feed ingredients with some form of medication present.

 

Cotton Cake

Cotton cake is sometimes used as an alternative broiler starter feed ingredient. Soybean meal is expensive in comparison to cottonseed cake therefore the latter is easier to maintain. Cotton cake is an excellent source of crude protein and energy. It also consists of a substantial amount of vitamins and minerals necessary for growth and tissue development of broiler chicks. In addition, cotton cake contains a fairly good amount of calcium which is of the essence in bone development. Livestock that are provided with cotton cake generally mature faster than their counterparts. Chicks that fed protein rich broiler starter feed ingredients also develop a larger carcass size. This is of great importance to broiler farmers as chicks are expected to grow faster; achieving the target weight within 6 weeks, depending on the breed. Late maturing poultry require an increased financial investment without any improvements in return hence the importance of protein rich feeds like cotton cake. Note that cotton cake contains gossypol which can have a negative effect in livestock. This type of broiler starter feed ingredient should therefore be provided in limited quantities.