Advantages And Disadvantages Of Blood Meal

Blood meal is a dried, powdered animal feed ingredient made from blood collected during the slaughtering process. Blood contains high-quality protein and essential amino acids, making it a valuable addition to livestock diets.

The use of blood meal in animal feed dates back centuries. Before industrial meat processing, blood was commonly collected from small-scale farm slaughter. With the rise of large slaughterhouses, blood emerged as an abundant byproduct that could be processed into a shelf-stable meal product and sold commercially.

Today, blood meal is a major feed ingredient around the world. It provides an efficient way to deliver nutritional proteins obtained during slaughter, rather than disposing of blood as waste. The blood is dried, sterilized, and processed into a fine powder to create blood meal.

Nutritional Composition of Blood meal

Bloodmeal is a high-protein feed ingredient used in diets for livestock and aquaculture species. The main nutrients supplied by bloodmeal are:

– Protein: Bloodmeal contains between 80-95% crude protein on a dry matter basis. This protein has an excellent amino acid profile, being high in lysine, leucine, and valine. The protein in bloodmeal is highly digestible for monogastric animals like pigs and chickens.

– Amino acids: The amino acid composition of bloodmeal complements that of plant protein sources. Bloodmeal is particularly high in lysine, an essential amino acid often limiting in grain-based feeds. It also contains good levels of histidine, isoleucine, leucine, threonine, and valine.

– Minerals: Bloodmeal is rich in iron and also provides good amounts of copper, manganese, selenium, and zinc. It contains lower levels of calcium and phosphorus compared to other animal protein meals. The iron in bloodmeal is highly bioavailable.

Blood meal can help meet protein requirements in ruminant and monogastric animal diets in a highly digestible form. The high protein and lysine content make blood meal particularly useful for supplementing poultry and swine feeds.

Advantages Of Using Blood Meal

The advantages of Blood Meal are that it provides high levels of protein and iron, which are essential for livestock health. Blood meal is an affordable source of quality protein for livestock feeds.

Compared to other protein supplements like soybean meal, blood meal is generally cheaper on a per unit of protein basis. This makes it an attractive option for farmers and feed manufacturers looking to minimize feed costs. 

The wide availability of blood meal is another advantage of blood meal. Slaughterhouses generate large quantities of blood as a by-product. Collecting and processing this blood into a dried powder enables efficient use of this resource. Unlike more niche protein sources, blood meal enjoys reliable and widespread supply.

From a nutritional standpoint, blood meal contains a very high concentration of protein in the form of amino acids. This includes substantial amounts of lysine and methionine, which are often lacking in grain-based livestock diets. Adding blood meal can help balance out the amino acid profile and promote optimal growth and performance.

Disadvantages Of Using Blood Meal

Blood meal has some potential drawbacks that need to be considered when using it as a feed ingredient.

#1. Risk of contamination

Blood meal faces a risk of contamination from the slaughterhouse if proper precautions are not taken. Pathogens like salmonella can be present in animal blood and spread to the blood meal if not properly heat-treated during processing. Producers need to source blood meal from reputable suppliers who follow regulations and implement control measures.

#2. Digestibility concerns

The protein in blood meal is not as digestible for monogastric like poultry and swine compared to other protein sources. Too much blood meal in the diet can lead to amino acid deficiencies. Ruminants like cattle can utilize blood meal protein better thanks to microbial fermentation in the rumen. But even in ruminants, high inclusion rates may impact digestibility.

#3. Palatability issues

Some livestock, especially swine, do not find blood meal palatable. The strong taste and odor can put them off their feed when included at too high rates in the diet formulation. This presents a challenge for nutritionists to balance blood meal’s benefits with palatability constraints and include it at appropriate levels along with other ingredients. Masking agents or gradual introduction may help adapt livestock to a unique taste profile.

Cattle Feeding with Blood Meal

Blood meal is commonly used in cattle feed as a protein supplement. The typical inclusion rate is 1-2% of the total ration. Blood meal is often paired with grains like corn, barley, or wheat bran to provide a balanced amino acid profile. The protein in blood meal complements the energy from the grains.

Feeding blood meal to cattle can increase weight gain and feed efficiency. The high-quality protein helps cattle build muscle. For dairy cattle, blood meal can increase milk production and protein content of the milk. However, the milk may develop an off-flavor if too much blood meal is fed.

Blood meal does not negatively affect the taste, texture, or color of beef. Meat from cattle fed blood meal is comparable to conventionally raised beef.

Lastly, blood meal is a beneficial supplement for cattle when included at low rates of 1-2% of the diet. It provides high-quality protein to support growth and milk production. Care should be taken not to exceed recommended inclusion rates to prevent negative effects.

Poultry Feeding with Blood Meal

Blood meal is commonly used in poultry diets as a source of high-quality protein. It can be included in layer and broiler chicken diets, as well as for other poultry like turkeys, ducks, and geese.

#1. Layers

For laying hens, blood meal is an excellent source of amino acids which are important for egg production. Typical layer diets may include 1-2% blood meal to support continued high rates of lay. The amino acid profile of blood meal complements that of corn and soybean meal, providing a more balanced overall protein quality in the diet.

Research shows including blood meal does not negatively affect egg size, shell quality, interior quality, or egg production. The nitrogen from blood meal is well-utilized by laying hens.

Blood meal also provides valuable iron, supporting hemoglobin synthesis and healthy feathering in laying hens.

#2. Broilers

Broiler chicken diets also benefit from the addition of blood meal. It serves as a highly digestible source of essential amino acids for meat production, like lysine, histidine, and arginine.

Research suggests that 1.5-3% dietary inclusion of blood meal can significantly increase growth rate and feed efficiency in broiler chickens. Carcass yield and meat quality are also improved. As an animal-source protein, blood meal is highly palatable for chickens. It does not reduce feed intake like some other protein supplements.

Overall, blood meal serves as a beneficial supplementary protein source in layer and broiler chicken feeds. It contributes essential amino acids to support egg production, growth rate, meat yield, and quality.

Feeding Swine with Blood Meal

Blood meal is commonly used in swine diets as a source of amino acids and minerals. It can be included in diets for pigs at all stages of production.

Starter vs Grower vs Finisher Diets

The inclusion rate of blood meal depends on the production phase:

– In starter diets for young pigs up to 25 pounds, blood meal is typically included at 1-2% of the diet. It provides highly digestible amino acids like lysine and histidine that support growth and development.

– In grower diets for pigs 25-125 pounds, inclusion rates of blood meal range from 0.5-1%. Blood meal supplements protein needs during this rapid growth phase.

– In finisher diets for pigs over 125 pounds, inclusion rates of blood meal are 0.25-0.5%. Lower protein diets help pigs deposit lean muscle instead of excess fat.

Blood meal levels are reduced as the pigs get older and their protein requirements decrease.

Aquaculture Feeding with Blood Meal

Blood meal can be an effective replacement for fishmeal in aquaculture feeds. Fishmeal is a common protein source in aquaculture but can be expensive and less sustainable.

Several studies have found blood meal to be a suitable alternative to fishmeal for various fish species. When included at 5-10% of the diet, blood meal supported similar or better growth compared to fishmeal.

For example, research on rainbow trout found that a diet with 7.5% blood meal produced greater weight gain and feed efficiency than one with just fishmeal. Tilapia also grew well when fed diets containing up to 10% blood meal as a fishmeal substitute.

Blood meal contains essential amino acids required for fish growth. It has high digestibility and bioavailability, allowing fish to efficiently utilize the protein. The red color of blood meal may also stimulate feeding behavior in some species.

When replacing fishmeal, blood meal inclusion rates should be balanced with other protein sources like soybean meal to ensure a complete amino acid profile.

Generally, blood meal can be a cost-effective and sustainable way to replace fishmeal and support growth in aquaculture operations. Proper processing is important to prevent issues with palatability or nutrient availability.

Regulations of Bloodmeal for Livestock Feeding

Blood meal use in animal feed is regulated by government agencies due to concerns over bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has put restrictions on the use of certain cattle materials in ruminant feed as a protective measure against BSE transmission. Blood meal derived from ruminant animals like cattle is not permitted in feed for ruminants. However, porcine and poultry blood meals can still be used in ruminant feeds.

Organic regulations also limit blood meal use. The National Organic Program prohibits the use of mammalian or poultry slaughter by-products in organic crop production. This restricts organic livestock producers from using blood meal as an organic fertilizer. Blood meal is also prohibited from being fed to organic livestock under the USDA organic standards.

The FDA and organic restrictions on blood meal aim to prevent the spread of diseases in livestock. This has reduced blood meal use in certain applications. However, blood meal continues to be a valuable source of protein and nutrients in non-ruminant animal feeds when sourced from approved animals.

Related: Feather Meal: Usage And Nutritional Benefits In Animal Feeds


Blood meal offers several benefits as well as some drawbacks as a livestock feed ingredient. On the plus side, blood meal is an excellent source of protein, amino acids, and minerals like iron. If you find this piece resourceful enough, please share and drop your opinion in the comment box below.

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