Poultry diets are a mixture of several feed stuffs such as soybean meal, cereal grains, fats, animal by-product meals, and vitamin and mineral premixes. Here are the few main nutrients which producer must not ignore when planning the poultry feed formula for layers.
The main source of energy for poultry is dietary carbohydrates. Corn, grain sorghum, wheat, and barley are important carbohydrates to poultry diets. These adversely affect the digestive processes of poultry when present in sufficient dietary concentrations. For example, pentosan and beta glucans of rye and barley respectively increase the viscosity of digesta and helps in nutrient absorption of poultry. Supplementation of rye or barley with dietary enzyme improves nutrient utilisation and growth of young poultry.
Dietary requirements for protein are actually requirements for the amino acids contained in the dietary protein. They are main constituents of structural and protective tissues, such as feathers, bone matrix, skin, and ligaments, including organs and muscles. The individual amino acids and short peptides after digestion-absorption may serve a variety of metabolic functions and precursor to biochemical pathways. Insufficient dietary protein leads to slow growth or less productivity.
Minerals are the inorganic part of feeds or tissues. Calcium and phosphorus are essential for the formation and maintenance of the skeleton and eggshell formation. Sodium, potassium, magnesium, and chloride function with phosphates and bicarbonate to maintain homeostasis of osmotic relationships and pH throughout the body. The forms of phosphorus, such as ATP and phospholipids if present in plants, can be digested by poultry; however, such digestible forms usually account for only 30 to 40 percent of the total phosphorus. The remaining phosphorus is present as phytate phosphorus and is poorly digested. Trace elements, including copper, iodine, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc are required in small amounts in the diet. Trace elements function as part of larger organic molecules. Iron is a part of haemoglobin and cytochromes, and iodine is a part of thyroxine.
Vitamin C is synthesised by poultry and is, accordingly, not considered a required dietary nutrient. The dietary requirement for vitamin E is highly variable and depends on the concentration and type of fat in the diet, the concentration of selenium, and the presence of prooxidants and antioxidants. Vitamin K activity is exhibited by a number of naturally occurring and synthetic compounds with varying solubilities in fat and water.
Water must be regarded as an essential nutrient, although it is not possible to state precise requirements. The amount needed depends on environmental temperature and relative humidity, the composition of the diet, rate of growth or egg production, and efficiency of kidney resorption of water in individual birds.
The carotenoid pigments not only provide yellow-orange coloration of egg yolks and poultry fat but also contribute to coloration of the skin, feet, and beak. Alfalfa meal contains lutein which provides a yellow colour, whereas corn and corn gluten meal contain primarily zeaxanthin which impart as orange-red colour. Synthetic carotenoids are also used approved by the regulatory agencies used in poultry diets as the concentration of the desired pigments in natural feed stuff is not always constant.
Antimicrobial agents are nutritional feed additives/growth promoters and are not nutrients as they are essential to poultry. They are included in diets to improve growth, efficiency of feed utilisation and livability. They are added at relatively low concentrations (1 to 50 mg/kg), depending on the agent and stage of development of poultry.
Poultry diets are a mixture of several feed stuffs such as soybean meal, cereal grains, fats, animal by-product meals, and vitamin and mineral premixes. Here are the few main nutrients which producer must not ignore when planning the feed diet.