High-quality feed is fundamental to broiler profitability. Two main aspects of feed quality are microbial quality and feed form. Feed-source pathogens can lead to disease and increased mortality in broilers. Research has shown that reducing high microbial loads in feed can help improve broiler performance and support producer profitability. Moisture management is also important as it can negatively affect both microbial quality and feed form. Improved pellet quality in broilers has been shown to support feed conversion and reduce the production of fines, leading to better feed efficiency and reduced waste.
Could Controlling Feed Microbial Loads Improve Broiler Performance
Feed is a fomite for avian pathogens. High microbial loads in poultry rations can lead to health and performance challenges by causing goblet cells within the gastrointestinal tract to proliferate and produce mucus. Balancing the microbiome helps the GIT remain in a state of absorption, which improves performance and minimizes risk. High pathogen prevalence in feed increases the risk of pathogen colonization and dysbiosis, which negatively impacts bird health and performance.
In collaboration with Colorado Quality Research, we have evaluated the impact of feed sanitation programs on broiler health and performance within a Necrotic Enteritis Challenge Model. Preliminary results from this work show that reducing microbial loads in broiler feeds, especially during the first two weeks of life, can support the development of healthy microflora and reduce the severity of Necrotic Enteritis. These trials have shown that broilers fed sanitized feed during different stages of the production cycle demonstrated improved feed conversion, growth rates, and mortality compared to those fed a control diet.
In today's food industry, safety and quality are paramount. Therefore, ingredient sourcing and managing microbial risks are crucial in animal feed and food production. Good feed hygiene programs are necessary to produce high-quality animal feed. Sanitizing feed is one of the most effective tools in the industry, as it reduces microbial loads and pathogen prevalence. Using a feed sanitizer in both raw ingredients and finished feed can also provide continued protection against recontamination.
Producing high-quality feed at a low cost can be achieved through optimizing resources, improving production processes, and reducing waste.
Balancing production efficiency and nutritional value requires improving moisture penetration and conditioning. Better moisture penetration and retention improve heat distribution, starch gelatinization, and limit microbial populations, resulting in longer shelf-life, improved pellet quality, and nutrient digestibility. Commercial trials have shown that including 1% Anitox Maxi-Mil improves conditioning rates, pellet stability, moisture retention, and reduces energy demand.
When pellets are of low quality, it causes more feed fines to be produced which results in the uneven distribution of necessary nutrients. This leads to poor feed quality, an inability to meet demand, over-formulation of diets and ultimately costs animal producers through reduced animal performance, lower feed value, reliance on toll mills and higher feed costs.
Studies indicate that the form of feed significantly affects animal performance. For instance, increasing the proportion of pellets in the feed pan from 50% to 70% led to a 3-point decline in feed conversion (Glover et al. 2015).
Available evidence suggests that enhancing the quality of feed given to broiler chickens can lead to better feed conversion rates, lower mortality rates, higher animal output, and effective management of excess feed expenses.
- Diets containing more than 40% fines can lead to losses of 3 to 6 points of FCR, which increases the cost of achieving the target bird weight.
- Improving the quality of pellets can result in higher weight gains for birds and lower mortality rates. According to a study, when a million-bird flock experienced an additional 58 grams per bird and a 44% decrease in mortality, it resulted in an added value of $134,000.
- Birds fed high-fine diets experience a loss of almost 49 grams per bird due to reduced access to essential nutrients.
Poor pellet quality leads to increased production of feed fines, resulting in an uneven distribution of essential formulation nutrients. Poor feed quality, inability to meet demand and over-formulation of diets cost animal producers through reduced animal performance, a decline in feed value, reliance on toll mills and increased feed costs.
Achieving broiler productivity and performance goals, feed quality strategies that promote reduced microbial loads and improved pellet quality help producers maximize the value of expensive raw materials and get the most out of their significant feed investments.
To learn more about how you can implement strategies promoting feed quality and broiler profitability within your operation, contact your Clean Feed Expert today.