With the increased pressure on poultry farmers from supermarkets, rising feed costs and bird flu, it is now more important than ever to carefully evaluate your poultry feed ration.

Kathryn Thompson :: Monday 3rd April 2023 :: Latest Blog Posts

Things to consider when planning your poultry feed ration

With the increased pressure on poultry farmers from supermarkets, rising feed costs and bird flu, it is now more important than ever to carefully evaluate your poultry feed ration. The most appropriate ration for your poultry farm will be the one that creates healthy and productive birds while still offering a cost-effective price. But within this decision, there are many additional factors to consider that can contribute to your choice of poultry feed ration.

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What storage do you have for your poultry feed and raw materials?

The type of storage you have may dictate what type of raw materials you can store, as well as how much of each resource. You may store your grain in bays in a barn, but this may not be suitable for specific types of grain.

When we work with new mill-and-mix clients, we like to have a clear understanding of how they store their raw materials and their mixed feed to ensure this is appropriate for the type of feed. But we also need to understand this in terms of how our lorries and operators will be able to access, process and offload feed within the feed storage areas.

Where do your raw materials come from?

Your choice of raw materials, and therefore ration make-up, may be influenced by the price and availability of specific raw materials such as cereals.

Many of our clients will have previously fed their animals a soya-based ration. But when moving to a mill-and-mix-feed service, where they produce their own raw materials, they may need to swap to alternatives that are more suited to the UK climate and their specific arable land.

At B&W, wherever possible, we do our best to source local raw materials for our feeds. This reduced feed miles reduces the impact of international market changes and ensures we can support British arable farmers. As part of this, we recently developed a soya-free cattle-finisher feed as part of our pre-mixed blends.

Most of our mill-and-mix customers are not able to produce all the raw materials for their poultry feed ration on their own farm. We are able to provide additional raw materials that they are unable to produce, such as minerals, oils and supplements.

When using your own home-grown raw materials for your poultry feed ration, you need to ensure they are of good quality, are consistent and have a low risk of potential contaminants. It can also be helpful to complete forage analysis where appropriate to establish what may be missing from your home-grown raw materials.

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What are the common straights that our clients include in their poultry feed ration?

Each poultry farm will have their own specific feed requirements and, as such, poultry feed rations can vary significantly. But during our years in the industry, we have seen some commonalities that tend to apply to almost all poultry farms.

We are often asked by new customers what straights or elements other clients commonly have in their ration and why each of these are important, so here is a summary of our findings and thoughts.

Cereals: these are a core feature of all poultry feed rations. Most often, our customers will have one main cereal they use, for example, barley, which they grow on their farm. But some customers use up to three cereals depending on their requirements, farm production and set-up.

Each ration will then have a protein source.  Many customers use the same protein source all year around, but others will use a mixture based on their own production, seasonality and availability. One of the most common protein sources in compound feeds is soya, but many of our clients are trying to move away from soya, so we often see alternatives such as legumes, beans, and sunflowers.

Most rations will then have at least one source of oil, and a specific set of minerals and supplements to support the birds, either as layers or table birds. Minerals could include things like limestone, which is commonly used to support eggshell production in laying hens. Supplements may be provided on an individual basis or as a premix, such as Premier Nutrition's Premix which includes MCP, amino acids, salt, and sodium bicarbonate within the premix as well as vitamins/trace elements/enzymes and other additives.

Having multiple sources of cereal or proteins available enables a specific, well-formulated diet to be achieved that meets the specific nutritional requirements of the poultry, whether they are laying hens or meat birds.