The need towards optimising poultry feeding has become a salient topical issue over the years due to the astronomical increase in poultry feed ingredients. Recently, the cost of maize which forms approximately 50% of of the diet of a typical layer ration was recently listed as 407 naira per kilo. This high price of ingredients is currently forcing commercial feed millers and farmers to produce at a very high cost which also erodes the profit margin, leaving the farmer a meagre profit, and even sometimes difficult to break even.
Now, more than ever, feeding poultry birds optimally to reduce the cost of production and increasing the feeding efficiency is now an important strategy that farmers needs to harness to continue to stay in business. Majorly, in livestock nutrition there three forms of feed, Mash, Pellet and crumbles. Understanding that these forms of feed as presented to poultry birds will determine a farmers confidence towards optimising feeding.
Consider mash feed as the first product of a compounded ration, it is the most convection and widely used form in most laying farms in sub-Saharan Africa region. Mash feed is simply the product of mixture of feed ingredients grinded into desired particles size, mixed together to achieve homogeneous mix as close as possible.
Achieving an homogeneous mix of mash feed is however a big debatable issue that is subjected to various operational elements. This invariably, is one of the main challenge of opting for a mash feed. Also, the probability that birds on mash feed will get required nutrients is not consistent, especially the micro-nutrients, this is so because most times birds tend to select the grains out of the mash feed during feeding leaving out the fine particles in the feed which mostly contains the micro-nutrients necessary for optimal maintenance and production.
Economically, mash is deem affordable compared to pellets and crumbles because its cheaper, and because it requires less sophisticated machineries to produce per ton, it is otherwise the simplest form of poultry feed.
Pelleted feed are made from homogenised mash, the feed is passed through a ring -die under high pressure often with a mixture boiling water to achieve a gelatinised pellet that is stable and durable. The pellet quality is dependent on series of factors, amongst is the particle size of the feed before pelleting. the finer the particle the size the more the pellet will resist breakage.
Feeding pelleted feed to poultry is often regarded as great way to ensure efficient feed optimisation and achieving a better feed conversion ratio as compared to mash. Other comparative advantage of pelleting is the reduction of mycotoxins and anti-nutritional factors that may be inherent in raw materials, this is made possible as result of the heat and steam that the feed passes through during production.
It is understandable to learn that the use Pelleted feed is often appreciated more by broiler farmers, for these set of farmers, the efficiency of feed conversion is an economic vantage point where profit maximisation is being monitored in shortest period of time, especially when evaluated with high cost of production.
A crumbled feed is simply a broken pellet, the pelleted feed are broken into smaller fragments maintaining the homogeneity and the quality of the feed. Crumbled feed are well adapted to feeding younger birds, this is targeted towards achieving a better digestibility in the gut, the broken pellets are exposed with a better surface area for metabolic reactions.
Farmers conventionally, feed crumbled feed to chicks and growing birds, the economics of feeding will depend on the individual farmer’s desire towards certain results.
In summary, there is no definite stand about which form of poultry feed is best to use, deciding on a particular feed form is dependent on farm’s economic realities, the facility in place on the farm, and also farmer’s target, the choice to opt for either Mash, Pellet or Crumbs, is subjected to a farmer’s choice.