Alternatives of Corn & Soybeans

As most of the protein in poultry feeds comes from soybean meal, the impact of high soy prices is felt by everyone from major poultry-producing corporations to the owner of the backyard flock.
A number of small & medium poultry  producers have contacted to me  and asking about less expensive alternatives to soybean meal as a source of protein. If the following feed ingredients are available locally, they can be used to partially replace soybean meal in most poultry feeds.

Alternatives to Soya Meal

  • Peas
  • Fish Meal
  • Linseed Meal
  • Sunflower Meal
  • MBM Meat Bone Meal 
  • Cotton seed meal
  • DDGS Distiller’s Dried Gains with Soluble 

1. Peas is having nutritive value is 22 – 24% CP, 2500 kcal/kg average energy

Limitations for the usage:

  • Low Sulphur Amino Acids
  • Tannins

Higher tannin varieties will reduce protein digestibility approx. 6% protein digestibility reduction for every 1% of tannins

Maximum usage without any adverse effects Limited to 20 – 25% in most poultry diets.

2. Fish meal is having nutritive values 58 – 72% protein, 2800 – 3000 kcal/kg

Limitations to feeding

  • High oil varieties – may cause off flavouring due to the fish oil
  • High oil meals, should not exceed 5% of the ration
  • Low oil varieties- May contain higher levels contaminants, antibiotics or heavy metals

Limited to be used in most of the poultry feed is 8-10 %

3. Linseed meal is having nutritive value 30-37% protein, 2300- 2700 Kcal/kg

Generally only used in ruminant feed. If kept fresh and not oxidized, works well in poultry and swine feeds.

Limitations to be used

  • Off flavouring
  • Fish flavour or a paint like smell from the high oil content at levels above 30%

In most of poultry feed Can fed up to 20% of the diet safely without off flavouring

 Use with caution in combination with fishmeals and other high Omega 3 oils.

4. Sun flower meal is having nutritive value 34-38% CP, 2200- 2400 Kcal/kg and it is a by product of the oil seed industry

Limitations: highly oxidative and very high non-digestible fibre

When fresh, can be used in most of poultry feed up to 10 -15% of the diet

5. Meat and Bone Meal
The typical meat and bone meal has about the same protein level as soybean meal. However, it has the advantage of also being high in calcium and phosphorus, 10% and 5%, respectively. A 5% level of inclusion of meat and bone meal is popular.

6. Cottonseed Meal
Cottonseed meal has somewhat less protein than soy (approximately 42%) and like peanut meal, is not a good source of lysine. Unless synthetic lysine can be added to the diet, use of cottonseed meal is usually limited to 4-5%.because of  Gossypol is a compound found in cottonseed meal, which at high levels can depress growth and discolour the yolk of eggs. However, for the backyard flock, levels of inclusion of 5% should not cause noticeable problems.

7. Distiller’s Dried Gains with Soluble
This ingredient, commonly known as DDGS, is a by-product of fermentation. In past years, most DDGS came from the beverage industry. More recently, tremendous amounts are becoming available when corn is fermented to produce ethanol for motor fuels. DDGS has about 27% protein, which is about half way between that of corn and soy. Research at the University of Georgia indicates that DDGS can be used in all types of feeds, with maximum levels being between 10 and 15%.

All of the ingredients mentioned above are priced lower than soybean meal, and might be considered when attempting to produce a lower cost feed. However, it is necessary to bear in mind that all protein is not of the same quality. The amino acid composition of alternative protein sources must be taken into account when preparing feeds for the backyard flock so that the birds are not subjected to nutrient deficiencies.

The alternatives for the Maize (Corn )

The Value of What’s Being Replaced

 Corn is having nutritive values  7 – 9% Protein & 1475 – 1600 kilocalories per pound • Xanthophyll’s (yellow colour) for yolk and body colour

Alternative Grains Energy alternative sources for Corn

  • wheat
  • Barley
  • Grain Sorghum (Milo)
  • Triticale

1. Sorghum (Milo) is having the nutritive values 7-9% protein and energy 2900 Kcal/kg

  • The most suitable replacement for corn.
  • Feeding value is essentially 95–96% the same as corn

Limitation in feeding is tannin content

  • The red or rusty colour of the seed = higher tannins
  • White or light varieties are have less tannins which allows feeding higher levels

In most of the poultry feed should be limited to 30-40% of the total diet based on tannin content.

2. Wheat is having nutritive value 9-16% protein,  3100 kcal/kg

  • Hard, red spring wheat varieties tend to have higher protein
  • Soft, white winter varieties lower protein

Limitations to be used in poultry feed is Pentosans content and the lack of Xylanase enzymes produced by the poultry digestive tract

In poultry Diets should be limited to 30% for young poultry and 50% for mature poultry

3. Triticale is having nutritive value of  11-13% protein & energy  2800 kcal/kg  , Hybrid of wheat and rye

 Limitations: Pentosans content and the lack of Xylanase enzymes produced by the poultry digestive tract

 • Similar to wheat • Diets should be limited to 30% for young poultry and 50% for mature poultry

4. Barley is having nutritive values are 11-12% protein & energy 2600 kcal/kg 

Limitations for the use in poultry feed : are due to β-Glucan content of barley, 5-8%

• Should be limited to 15 – 20% of the diet • May be fed at higher levels if βGlucanase enzymes are added to the diet

5. Oat is having nutritive values are 10-12% protein and energy 2400 kcal/kg 

Limitations are due to β-Glucan content of oats, 5-8%

 In poultry feed should be limited to 15 – 20% of the diet • May be fed at higher levels if βGlucanase enzymes are added to the diet

Profit margins are getting smaller daily because of feed costs. But broiler meat prices have been firmer in most part of India and poultry farmers may not able to fetch a money or to do production in spite of the higher costs. Some have changed their market strategies, such as selling birds at different sizes. Commodities or by-product feeds providing a source of protein and energy can also be used to decrease the cost of the grain mix. But all livestock industries are dealing with the extreme volatility in feed prices and companies will not be expanding this year at the rates they normally would. 

Compiled by
Dr.Yogesh Paharia
B.V.Sc & A.H, M.V.Sc ( Nutrition )