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Save Costs with Animal By-Products

14 April 2016

ANALYSIS - The use of poultry and fish by-products in feed has the potential to greatly reduce broiler and layer feeding costs. Dr Leon Ekermans, director of animal feeds at Bester Feed and Grain, told Glenneis Kriel more about this.

With poultry production having to more than double by 2050 to meet the rising demand of a growing population, producers have to find ways to produce more meat with fewer inputs as well as fewer wastage. The use of good quality poultry and fish by-products is one way of achieving both these goals.

Dr Leon Ekermans, director of animal feeds at Bester Feed and Grain in South Africa, said that there is nothing new about the use of animal by-products in poultry feed: “Producers have been using poultry and fish by-products for many years, because it is a relatively cheap source of protein and essential amino acids. As such, it helps to reduce the cost of soy and maize based feeds.”

The risk of using these products is almost non-existent, since the material is treated through different processes, such as hydrolysis, to kill off potentially harmful organisms and pathogens.

Since post product process contamination could still occur, producers should however ensure that they only buy high quality product from reputable sources.

Dr Ekermans pointed out that ruminant animal by-products are prohibited in various countries, because of the risk of BSE (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy) transfer.

The sources

Dr Ekermans said that fish meal is historically the most important animal protein, because it was such an incredibly good source of amino acids.

“Unfortunately it is highly popular in aquaculture diets, making it difficult to source good quality fish meal for animal feed in many countries,” Dr Ekermans said.

When it came to poultry by-product rendering, there are three sources, namely the feathers, fat and meat.

Dr Ekermans said that rendered poultry fat is a concentrated source of energy, which had the potential to increase feed efficiency, so birds required less food, as well as the rate of gain, so the birds could be sent to the market at an earlier age.

It is also a good source of linoleic acid and helped to decrease the dustiness, while increasing the palatability, of feeds. Dr Ekermans however pointed out that it was best not to feed products with high rendered fats to young birds, as they might find it difficult to digest.

Rendered poultry protein is a competitive source of a highly digestible high quality protein, he said. It provided a slightly faster growth rate than vegetable protein only diets and was also an excellent source of available phosphorous and other minerals.

Dr Ekermans warned, though, that there are a few concerns with these products, especially on the manufacturing side, as poor quality control and improper handling could amongst others lead to a decrease in amino acid digestibility, microbial contamination and/or product variation.

Rendered protein sources includes poultry meal, poultry by-product meal, hydrolysed poultry feather meal and poultry blood meal. According to Dr Ekermans, poultry meal, which consists of the dry rendered product from of combination of clean flesh and skin, and blood meal are the preferred sources of rendered protein.

Poultry by-products (PBY) are not that ideal as there is such a wide variation in the definitions of what poultry by-product meal is.

“This results in a wide variation in the nutritional value of the product. Poultry feather meal on the other hand is relatively economically priced, but it has a poor amino acid balance and for this reason not as ideal for use in poultry production,” Dr Ekermans said.

For more information contact Dr Ekermans at

ThePoultrySite News Desk

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