Diet is crucial to their health, flavor and nutrition; chickens being omnivores, some vitamins and essential fatty acids may be better absorbed from animal sources than from plant ones.
Poultry flocks can benefit from eating hay too; it provides essential vitamins such as A and C as well as calcium to strengthen eggshells.
Protein levels in meat chicken feed play an integral role in both their health and size, as well as in the flavour and nutrition of their eggs. A sufficient protein ration must contain enough to encourage growth while still providing access to all necessary amino acids in their diet. While legumes and oilseeds provide some sources of protein, some types (particularly essential amino acid lysine) are best absorbed from animal products due to their natural omnivorous diet.
Chicken feed contains fats (usually rendered pig or beef fat) and oils such as linseed, soya bean, sunflower or palm). These provide energy, help absorb vitamins more readily and provide essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for the chicken’s well-being. They may also include methionine which contributes to chemical disulfide bonds that strengthen feathers during molting, while methionine may help strengthen chemical disulfide bonds during chemical disulfide bond formation during feather strength enhancement during molting; supplements such as shell grit, marigold flowers (which increase yellow egg intensity), yeast may also be added.
Most feeds are composed of a blend of animal and vegetable fats to provide a balanced source of energy and provide various fatty acids beneficial to poultry. Liquid feed fats typically comprise 5 percent of young poultry feed compound since these birds metabolize unsaturated fatty acids more effectively (Fuller Citation).
Dietary fibres can either be soluble or insoluble, and contain various non-starch protein components which combine to create viscous gel formations that slow food passage rates (Cambridge Citation). Xylanases have traditionally been employed to address this problem.
Feed producers consider numerous factors when selecting ingredients for their formulas, such as availability and cost. This allows them to provide their customers with high levels of feed safety through an approval system which only permits blends to go on sale once all necessary tests have been carried out successfully.
Fiber is a carbohydrate that the human body finds difficult to break down, yet still provides many health benefits. Fiber may help relieve constipation, lower cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar levels for stable weight management as well as aiding absorption of key nutrients like proteins and fats by aiding the body.
Fiber components are integral parts of cereal grains and oilseeds commonly used to formulate poultry diets, with both insoluble and soluble fibers having direct impacts on intestinal morphology, organ growth and digestion of nutrients. Their impact depends on their solubility, interactions between molecules as well as modulation of gut microflora to different degrees.
One study demonstrated how adding cellulose to chicken feed increased egg production both as a percentage and number. Furthermore, it improved breast meat fatty acid composition with higher ALA, n-3 LC PUFA, and DHA content; decreasing n-6:n-3 ratio regardless of Se intake level or oil source source; as well as increasing antioxidant capacity of breast muscle tissues through feeding of this kind.
Chickens need minerals for optimal health and functioning, including bone and muscle strength, nerve function, metabolism and immune system support. Minerals are available through commercial feed pellets and mash designed specifically to meet poultry nutritional requirements as well as in poultry meat sources such as eggs.
Cereal grains provide the primary energy source in poultry feed. This includes wheat, corn, sorghum, barley and rye as well as cereal byproducts such as corn gluten meal, wheat middlings or distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS).
Calcium is necessary for bone formation, eggshell quality, blood-clotting and muscle function; typically supplied through limestone or oyster shell while dicalcium phosphate can also be added as dicalcium phosphate. Magnesium helps with nerve function, metabolism and protein synthesis while iron is crucial for oxygen transport and immunity; selenium acts as an antioxidant found in meat, bone meal and commercial feeds containing coated trace minerals; according to one study broilers fed diets with coated trace minerals experienced less drip loss compared to those fed lard alone despite fat source differences being in their impact on drip loss being unaffected by fat source alone.