Poultry feed is composed of several ingredients; not just ingredients but those of nutritional value. Over 60 percent of the total feed composition is made up of grains, such as corn, wheat, sorghum, etc.; they are energy sources.
Soybean is another important component of animal feed, it is the best source of protein in poultry feed; it takes about 20-30 percent of the feed; others are vitamins, minerals, and other important additives, an example is the enzymes am about to explain their importance in poultry feed.
Firstly, what are feed additives?
Feed additives are materials or substances added to the feed to meet specific purposes. They are added to:
- Improve the nutritional balance of the feed
- Improve the digestibility of the feed
- To achieve the desired product quality, such as bright egg yolk.
In the case of enzymes, we can say they are added to, directly and indirectly, serve the above functions.
Roles of enzymes in poultry feed
Feeding poultry birds is important but ensuring that the birds fully utilize the feed, in terms of full digestibility, which leads to absorption of nutrients and growth is very important and paramount.
The digestive system of poultry birds is simple; it can only utilize easily digestible feed ingredients; unlike cattle and other ruminant animals that possess a complex stomach structure that allows the digestion and absorption of any type of the feed ingredient.
The digestibility of feed in poultry birds is a function of several factors, chiefly the nature of the feed ingredient. Most of the feedstuffs used in manufacturing poultry feed are fibrous materials that are not easily digested by the birds, this is because the easily digestible ones are expensive and very competitive, hence enzymes are needed to make the feed ingredients digestible.
You would keenly agree with me that livestock is facing a huge competition with humans in terms of consumption of various feed materials.
Corns, as a case study, is the best energy source ingredient in poultry diet. This same corn is highly utilized and transformed into different forms for human consumptions; the same applies to soybeans. this unruly competition has led to the hike in prices of these key feed ingredients used by feed millers.
In other to surmount this “oppression”, animal nutritionist or feed millers have no other option than to recover, process and utilize, with the aid of different enzymes, some industrial by-product as sources of nutrients for livestock such as poultry birds.
That is why you have material such as wheat bran, corn gluten, corn bran, rice bran and other industrial by-products in poultry feed. Although, to a reasonable level of inclusion.
Out of the 6 nutrients required by poultry birds, 4 are very expensive. They are:
- Carbohydrate, a source of energy
Calcium is less expensive but because it has a complementary relationship with phosphorus makes is remarkable. The digestibility of these nutrients is very important in feeding poultry birds. These nutrients are not always digested fully; the inability of poultry birds to digest them fully leads to a drop in production or poor productivity of the birds.
In order to increase the digestibility of these nutrients, enzymes are added to the feed; this has economic and environmental implications. You would get to know these as you read on.
Types of enzymes
Enzymes are broadly classified under 3 categories based on the aforementioned nutrients. We have
- Carbohydrase enzymes
- Protease enzymes
- Phytase enzymes
Carbohydrase enzymes help to increase the digestibility of carbohydrate sources, resulting in the release and absorption of more energy in the poultry diet. Examples are Xylanases, Amylases, and Beta-glucanase; they aid in the digestion of fibrous animal feedstuffs like wheat, sesame, corn bran, etc.
The proteases enzymes aid in the complete digestion of protein in poultry diet. Soybean is the best protein source for poultry feed; however, there are several antinutrients in soybeans, such as trypsin inhibitors. These substances form complex and disturb the normal digestion process of protein in the feed. With protease enzymes, these antinutrients are degraded and the birds would fully digest and absorb the protein in the feed.
Phytase enzymes help to release the non-digestible phosphorus in feed ingredients, like rice, corn, soybean, etc.; they are needed to make phosphorus available to the birds. Phytase enzymes improve the digestibility of phosphorus by about 10 percent and that of calcium by 10-20 percent.
The economic importance of enzymes in poultry feed.
Aside from the productive roles enzymes play in the digestibility of nutrients and performance of the birds, enzymes also play remarkable roles in the economy of feed and feeding poultry birds.
- Enzymes help to reduce the cost of feeding poultry birds. With a little amount of a particular feedstuff and the inclusion of enzymes in the feed, at a reduced cost, you can get a better result than using a whole lot of the ingredients without using enzymes.
- They help to reduce odor in the environment. Do you really know what causes odor in poultry farms? It is as a result of the excretion of nutrients that were supposed to be fully utilized by the chickens but were not as a result of antinutrients or the structure of the feedstuff. With enzymes, nutrients are fully utilized and excretion of nutrients is reduced as much as possible.
- Enzymes help to reduce the pollution of phosphorus in the environment. Phytase enzymes help to reduce the excretion of phosphorus at about 30 percent.
The use of enzymes in poultry feed is one of the smart ways of reducing the cost of production and increasing the productivity of the birds at a reduced cost. Poultry feed enzymes help to increase the nutritional value of the feed, reduces the cost of feeding and improve the environment.
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