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  • Jin Gan

Common Feed Ingredients In A Poultry Diet

Poultry Feed

The major ingredients in a poultry diet will help to provide energy as well as protein for the birds to grow, produce egg and maintain health. For more information, please refer to the article 'Components of Poultry Diet'

Energy Source

Common sources of energy for the poultry diet include cereal grains, fats and oils.

Cereal Grains

A cereal is any grass cultivated for the edible components of its grain, composed of the endosperm, germ and bran. It is the main ingredient in most poultry diet due to its availability, high energy content and palatability. Some of the common cereal grains are as follows:

  • Barley - a major cereal grain grown in temperate climates globally. It is a very important feed grain in many parts of the world where maize is not suitable for production. Among grains, it is considered medium energy. It has low starch content and a high fiber content.

  • Maize - also known as corn, is a large grain plant first domesticated in Mexico around 10,000 years ago. It is used as a major source of both grain feed and fodder for livestock. It is very efficient at converting sunlight into chemical stored energy such as starch, cellulose and oil. It is one of the most commonly used grain for poultry diets in the United States due to its high energy content and high digestibility. Besides that, its amino acid profile of the protein in the corn also compliments the amino acid profile of other ingredients such as soybean meal. It is the standard in which other alternative grains are being compared with.

  • Wheat - is a cereal grain originally from the Levant region but it is now cultivated worldwide. As of 2016, it is the second most produced cereal right behind maize. It is often used in poultry diets in western Canada as well as parts of Europe.

Fats and Oils

Fats provides approximately two times the energy compared to carbohydrates. Some of the common feed oil sources used in poultry feed include:

  • Palm Oil & By-Products

  • Rice Bran Oil

  • Palm Kernel & Coconut Oils

  • Animal Tallow

  • Other oils such as soyabean meal, fish oil, rapeseed oil and cotton seed oil

  • Oil blends

  • Recovered oils

Other benefits of fats in the poultry diet include:

  • Improving the physical characteristics of feed

  • Decreasing the dustiness

  • Improving the palatability of feed

  • Increasing the lubrication value of feed

  • Reducing the particle separation, this will help maintain a uniform mixture of each ration

  • Contains linoleic acid, which is an essential fatty acid

Protein Sources

Common protein sources for poultry diets include canola, fish meal, field peas, meat and bone meal and soybeans


Canola is a cultivar of rapeseed. In order for it to be called canola, it must have less than 2% of erucic acid and less than 30 micromoles of glucosinolates per gram. It is not only completely safe for human and animal consumption, it is also one of the healthiest plant derived oils as it has low amount of saturated fat and a high polyunsaturated fats.

Fish Meal

Fish meal is a commercial product usually made from fish that are generally not used for human consumption. A majority part of it is made by manufacturing from sustainable, managed and monitored fish stocks of wild caught, small marine fish. A smaller portion of it is made from the bones and offal left over from processing fish used for human consumption.

Field Peas

Peas is the spherical seed of the pod fruit Pisum sativum. It is usually grown in temperate regions. The peas used in poultry diets generally comes from peas rejected in the food industry.

Meat and Bone Meal (MBM)

Meat and bone meal (MBM) is a product of the rendering industry. Its typical content consist of 48 - 52% protein, 33 - 35% ash, 8 - 12% fat and 4 - 7% moisture. It is no longer allowed to be fed to ruminants in most country as it is thought to be responsible for the mad cow disease. With that being said, it is still being used to feed monogastric animals such as poultry.


Soybean meal is the primary protein supplement being used in poultry diets. It is the standard to which alternative sources of protein is being compared with. The reason why soybean meal is so popular is because of its very high protein content compared to other plant protein sources.

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