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What Do We Feed Them? – informer57.com

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Feeding food-production animals is a complex process. It requires that we understand the basics of nutrition, animal behavior and performance, animal health, and the economics of the enterprise. 

To ensure that our animals are productive and healthy, we must be able to provide them with a balanced meal that meets all their nutritional needs. The science of nutrition has made great strides in helping us formulate diets for livestock and poultry. But what do we feed to food-production animals? What combination of ingredients stacks up to provide the nutrients that food-production animals need? 

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Soybean 

Soybean is a primary feed ingredient for food-production animals. It is the second most widely used livestock feedstuff in the United States and accounts for about one-half of all plant protein fed to animals. Soybeans are also used as a source of oil, meal, and hulls for human consumption. 

Soybeans are the world’s largest single source of vegetable protein — more than 80 percent higher than the next closest competitor, corn. Soybean meal is a superb source of protein for cattle, poultry, and swine diets. In addition to its high protein content, soybean meal contains fat, fiber, and ash, nutritionally essential elements in animal feed formulation

Soybeans can be processed into various products such as oil and meal (by-product) or whole beans (shelled). Soybean oil is used as edible vegetable oil, while soybean meal is mainly used as a feed ingredient in livestock rations. 

 

Grains 

Grains are the main ingredient in most animal feed. They provide energy for growth and reproduction and serve as a source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Grains are typically produced on large farms called feedlots, where animals are kept confined and fed with grain from silos. Corn, sorghum, and wheat are the most common grains fed to food-production animals. Other grains include barley, oats, and rye.  

Corn is a staple grain for animal feed because it is inexpensive, easy to store and transport, and can be used as a base ingredient for many animal feed products. Corn is also high in starch, which helps build animal muscle mass.  

Sorghum is another grain that can be used as an alternative to corn because it contains less starch than corn, making it more suitable for certain animals such as cattle or poultry with more sensitive digestive systems than hogs or sheep. 

 

Forages and grasses 

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Forages are another source of feed for food-producing animals. Forages include alfalfa, barley, corn, sorghum, oats, and wheat. Forages are low in protein (about 10 percent) but have good energy content (approximately 9 to 12 percent). They also contain high amounts of carbohydrates and fiber. 

Grasses are another source of forage for food-producing animals. Grass is a type of plant with its seeds enclosed in a hard seed head called a spikelet. Grasses usually have long leaves that grow from the base of the plant. Examples of grasses grown as forage include bluegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, orchard grass, red clover, white clover, timothy hay, or sweet vernal grass. Grasses are low in protein (about 10 percent) but have good energy content (approximately 9 to 12 percent). They also contain fiber and carbohydrates in large amounts. 

 

Distillers’ grains  

Distillers’ grains are a by-product of the ethanol industry. They’re used to feed livestock and are rich in protein and carbohydrates. 

The distillers’ grains are produced by distilleries that make ethanol from corn or other starchy crops. The grains are separated from the mixture of starch and alcohol, then dried and ground into a powder or pellet. 

Distillers’ grain is used as animal feed because it’s high in protein, fat, and fiber — all essential nutrients for livestock — but also relatively low in carbohydrates (about 10-12%). This makes it an ideal supplemental feed for cattle, pigs, poultry, and other animals that need high-quality protein without too many carbs. 

 

Poultry litter 

Poultry litter is a by-product of the poultry industry. It is composed of bedding material, manure, and urine and is used in animal feeds as a source of protein.  

Poultry litter can be used as a feed ingredient to help make up the protein content in livestock feeds. It typically contains about 90% water but about 8% crude protein, 7% crude fat, and 5% ash (minerals). 

 

Animal by-products  

Animal by-products are animal parts that are unsuitable for human consumption. Animals reared for meat and dairy products are often fed by-products to help reduce costs. By-products are also commonly used to supplement the diets of fish, chickens, and pigs with vitamins and minerals. 

The following are typical animal by-products used in animal feed: 

Blood meal 
Bone meal 
Fatty acids (either vegetable or animal) 
Gelatin 
Feathers 

 

Conclusion 

In a world where so much of our food comes from factory farms, it’s essential to know what exactly is going into the livestock we eat. Hopefully, this article is a first step in helping you become more informed about what happens behind factory farm walls. So the next time you’re at the grocery store, you might even ask where your meat and chicken came from. 

 

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