By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao 

In caring for livestock and poultry, one crucial element that ensures proper growth development and good health among the animals are their feeds. With the right amount and mixture, the animals can get the appropriate nutrition that they need to achieve the desired weight, size, and even develop better resistance against diseases. 

Yet, commercial feeds can sometimes burn a hole in one’s pocket. So how can one provide the basic needs of the animals without having to put out a lot of cash?

The answer can be found in basic feed production. 

Perlito B. Montañez, a Learning Site for Agriculture Cooperator for the Agricultural Training Institute Regional Training Office in Caraga, discussed how to create nutritious feeds without sacrificing one’s savings in the Caraga leg of AgriTalk 2020 which is held in partnership between the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Training Institute in Caraga (DA-ATI Caraga) and Manila Bulletin. 

As opposed to commercial feeds, producing basic feeds can help farmers save nearly P400,000 which usually goes to buying retail feeds. Plus, they can be assured that their animals are really getting the proper vitamins and minerals that they need. 

But aside from giving livestock and poultry a source of sustenance and nutrition, feeds also have other functions which Montañez explained during the AgriTalk webinar. 

Like all living things, the feed is used to maintain life as every creature needs to eat in order to survive. Plus, feeds also promote growth and help in producing offspring. 

Feed components 

To produce basic feeds for livestock and poultry, Montañez said that it should meet the six basic components: water, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, and vitamins. 

Water is one of the most important components. Not only will it help make the outcome reach the proper consistency that would help animals consume the feeds, but it also helps hydrate the animals since they too require water in order to survive. 

Carbohydrates serve as the energy source that makes up the largest portion of the poultry and livestock diet. 

Another feed component is fats. These have two and one-quarter times the calories of carbohydrates by weight. These provide animals with nine calories of energy per gram. 

Next are proteins. These are complex compounds made up of smaller units called amino acids. 

Minerals, on the other hand, play a role in bone formation. These are also needed for other bodily functions such as the formation of blood cells, blood clotting, enzyme activation, metabolism, and proper muscle function. 

Lastly, vitamins are a group of organic compounds that poultry and livestock require in small quantities. 

Feed materials/ingredients 

Since the components have been identified, the next step is to determine which materials or ingredients can be used that are rich in these components and sit well as animal feed. Montañez suggests the following: 

Corn meal. This is a major feed grain and a standard component of poultry and livestock diets where it is used as a source of energy. 

Rice bran. A good source of B vitamins and is fairly palatable to farm animals.

Copra meal. Also known as coconut meal, this ingredient is often used as a protein supplement. 

Fish meal. Obtained by cooking, pressing, drying, and milling fresh raw fish or fish trimmings. It serves as a source of digestible protein as well as essential vitamins and minerals. 

Soybean meal. The most important protein source used to feed farm animals, according to Montañez. 

Oyster shells. Contain about 38 percent of calcium and no phosphorus. Although served finely ground to most farm animals, laying hens prefer a coarse grit. 

Salt. A common household commodity that is a good source for sodium and chloride. 

Vitamins. To avoid commercial vitamins, organic concoctions or extracts can be used. These can be added directly into the feeds or mixed into the drinking water. 

Formulating rations 

Once the materials have been acquired, it’s time to make the feeds. There are two methods to go about this which include hand formulation and computer formulation. 

In hand formulation, the farmer can measure the amount or ratio of feeds by hand. Under this approach are two others: the Pearson’s square method and trial and error. 

The Pearson’s square method is a tool that can be used to calculate the portion of two feeds needed to meet protein or energy requirements of an animal. It is easily looked up on the internet. Opposite to this, trial and error is a more difficult approach because not only does it not use a formula, but it would take some time before the farmer can get the right ratios. 

But for the computer formulation, farmers or larger companies use computer programming to create the feeds’ formula. 

With the proper knowledge and experience in making basic feeds for livestock and poultry, farmers will be able to save a lot more from buying commercial feeds. Moreover, by using different ingredients, the animals are sure to enjoy new flavors that are palatable and healthy. 

Watch the full video of the webinar here