livestock feed

Feeding takes 70-75% of the total cost of livestock production. There are several components of livestock feed; they include protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals. These materials play an active role in the growth and development of livestock; some are required in relatively large proportion, these are the macronutrients.

Protein and energy sources; they take up to 90% of the feed composition; others are required in minute quantities, but as negligible as their presence is in the feed, they play a very significant role in the animals’ growth and development. They are called micronutrients, they are vitamins and minerals; deficiency in any of these micronutrients can greatly impair the productivity of the farm.

Livestock feeds contain two distinct components; the nutritional components and non-nutritional components. The nutritional components are the macronutrients and micronutrients; they supply the essential nutrients required for the growth and development of the animal.

The non-nutritional components are the synthetic or non-synthetic materials added to the feed to improve the digestibility and utilization of the nutritional components. They also play a key role in the performance and health of the animal as they increase the immunity of the animal, they are otherwise called FEED ADDITIVES. They are also present in minute quantity in the feed; they are:


  1. Antioxidants

These are substances added to the feed to preserve the quality of the feed during storage through their action. When added to feeds, they prevent the rancidity of fat in the diet or prevention of feed nutrients from being destroyed by oxidation.

Without antibiotics, a rancid feed can cause low in productivity of the animal. Fat is an alternative source of energy in animal feed, when stored they tend to become rancid as a result of their reaction when they come in contact with air. Air is ubiquitous, the only way to prevent the deterioration of the feed as a result of oxidation is the addition of antioxidants into the feed.

They help to keep the feed out of oxidation reaction. Examples of antioxidants used in poultry are: BHT (Butylated HydroxyToleune), BHA (Butylated HydroxyAmisole), Avaparcin, flavomycin natural antioxidant is Vitamin E.



  1. Antibiotics

These are substances produced by microorganisms; they’re added to the feed to preserve the quality of the feed. When they are present in the feed, they inhibit the growth and activities of other microorganisms inside the feed. The primary activity of microorganisms is degradation; they degrade the nutrient content of the feed when present in the feed, thus, deteriorating the quality of the feed. Examples of antibiotics are Gentamicin, Furazolidone.

Check: List Of Antibiotics Approved For Use In Poultry Production


  1. Coccidiostat

These are drugs or substances used to prevent and control the disease called coccidiosis caused by Eimeria spp. Coccidiosis is a dreadful disease affecting poultry birds; it is best prevented than treated because its outbreak does cause a lot of havoc in the farm and embitters the farmer greatly. These coccidiosis drugs are therefore added to prevent the menace of this disease; they are Amprolium, Monensin sodium, Sulphaquinoxaline.

Check: Coccidiosis In Poultry: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment


  1. Pigmenters

These are materials that when added to animal feed, they improve the product presentation. They are commonly used in poultry to improve the color of the yolk; the yolk of the egg is presumed to show the quality of the egg. Examples of pigmenters are yellow maize, sunflower petals, marigold leaves, alfalfa, etc.

Check: Poultry Feed Additives: 8 Natural Materials That Give Yellow Yolk Color



  1. Tranquilizer

These are materials added occasionally to livestock feeds to suppress aggression and excessive activities of animals. They are commonly present in cattle and other large animals’ feed. When added to the animal’s feed, it reduces aggression and cannibalism; also it is used to refrain and keep the animal docile when an operation, like dehorning or castration, is about to be carried out on them.  Examples are; Aspirin, Reserpine, Ethyleneglycol.



  1. Sex hormones:

These are commonly used on female animals; they are used to synchronize their oestrus cycle. This hastens their reproduction and increases farm productivity. The most common sex hormone used is Diethyl-stibesterol.



  1. Enzymes

Enzymes are materials added to the feed to enhance the digestibility of some complex component of the feed such as fiber. The addition of enzymes into animal feed helps in increasing digestibility and results in increased growth rate and feed utilization. Examples of livestock enzymes are cellulase, glucanase, phytase.

Check: Why Enzymes Are Important In Poultry Feed


These materials do not add nutrients to the animals but help to preserve the nutrients present in the micronutrients and macronutrients; they make it available and easily digestible to the animals. Some boost the immune system of the animals, making them resistant to detrimental diseases. Conclusively, they are mainly present to increase the productivity of the animals without impairing the animals in any way.

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