Chicken feed accounts for more than 80 per cent of the cost of poultry production. Making your own feeds would therefore cut down costs while increasing the profit margin. The increasing cost of feeds is driving many poultry farmers out of business. The problem worsened recently when the government introduced a 16 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on all animal feeds. This has pushed up the cost of a 70kgpoultry feed from an average of KSh 2,000 to KSh 2,400 (20% increase) for chick and layers mash making it very difficult for poultry farmers to break even.
As a result, in the last couple of months we have received many enquiries from poultry farmers in different parts of the country who want to know how they can make their own feeds in order to cut down costs of production. Feeds account for more than 80 per cent of production costs. A farmer who manages to bring down this cost to about 50 to 60 per cent stands to make good returns in the poultry business. In the past, the conventional wisdom has been that farmers cannot make their own feeds, and especially to feed exotic breeds of chickens. But we have established that this way of thinking has stifled efforts of the more enterprising farmers who have the needed skills to make feeds.
Indeed, we have established that some farmers are already formulating their own high quality feeds on the farm and do not rely on commercial feeds whose cost keep rising every day. Besides, the quality of some feeds is so poor that farmers using such feeds incur unnecessarily huge losses. Farmers who formulate and make their own feeds at home save an average of Ksh 840 for every 70kg bag of chicken feed, which is a great saving for those doing commercial production.
Below, is a guide to farmers on what they need to be able to formulate their own feeds and cut down their production costs:
How to prepare layers chick mash (1-4 weeks)
Since they are growing, chicks require feed with Digestible Crude Protein (DCP) of between 18 to 20 per cent. Amino acids are important additives in all feeds in order to make a complete feed for all animals. For hybrid chickens the addition of amino acids is very important to maintain a balanced diet for fast growth. The following ingredients can be used to make a 70 kg bag of chick mash:
- 31.5kg of whole maize
- 9.1kg of wheat bran,
- 7.0 kg of wheat pollard,
- 16.8 kg of sunflower (or 16.8 kg of linseed),
- 1.5 kg of fishmeal
- 1.75 kg of lime
- 30g of salt
- 20g of premix
- 70g of tryptophan
- 3.0g of lysine
- 10g of methionine
- 70 g of threonine
- 50g of enzymes
- 60g of coccidiostat
- 50g of toxin binder
To make a 70 kg bag growers feed (1 to 8 weeks), it is important to remember that pullets or young layers should be provided with feed having a protein content of between 16 and 18 per cent. Such feed makes the pullet to grow fast and prepare for egg laying. Layers’ feed should never be fed to chickens younger than 18 weeks as it contains calcium that can damage their body organs such as kidneys (they can develop kidney stones), which interfere with egg production and also shorten their lifespan. Grit (sand) should be provided to growers that are not on free range to aid in digestion.
Making a 70 kg bag of layers’ mash (18 weeks and above)
- 34kg of whole maize
- 12kg of Soya
- 8kg of fishmeal
- 10kg of maize bran, rice germ or wheat bran
- 6 kg of lime
- 175g premix
- 70g lysine
- 35g methionine
- 70kg tryonine
- 35g tryptophan
- 50g toxin binder
Layer feed should contain a Digestible Crude Protein (DCP) content of between 16-18 per cent. The feed should contain calcium for the formation of eggshells (Laying hens that do not get enough calcium will use the calcium stored in their own born tissue to produce eggshells). Layer feed should be introduced at 18 weeks.
Formulating a 70 kg bag of broiler feed
Broilers have different feed requirements in terms of energy, proteins and minerals during different stages of their growth. It is important that farmers adapt feed rations to these requirements for maximum production. Young broilers have a high protein requirement for the development of muscles, feathers, etc. As the broilers grow, their energy requirements for the deposit of fat increase and their protein requirements decrease. They therefore require high protein content in their starter rations than in the grower and finisher rations. Broilers should have feed that has between 22 – 24 per cent DCP. The following guidelines can help the farmer to make the right feed at each stage of growth:
Preparing broiler growers feed (70 kg)
- 10kg of whole maize
- 16.7kg of maize germ
- 13.3kg of wheat pollard
- 10 kg wheat bran
- 6 kg of cotton seed cake
- 4.7kg of sunflower cake
- 3kg of fishmeal 2kg of lime
- 3.4kg of soya meal
- 40g of bone meal
- 10g of grower PMX
- 5g of salt
- 5g of coccidiostat
- 5g of Zincbacitrach
Broiler starter feed (1-4 weeks)
- 40kg of whole maize
- 12kg of fishmeal (or omena)
- 14kg of soya bean meal
- 4kg of lime
- 70g of premix
- 35g of lysine
- 35g of threonine
Important tips on feed preparation
- When making home made feed rations, it is important to do experimental trials, by isolating a number of chickens, feeding them and observing their performance. If the feed rations are right, the broilers will grow fast and layer will increase egg production (at least 1 egg after every 27 hours).
- Farmers should be very careful with the quality of feed ingredients or raw materials. Chickens are very sensitive to feeds that contain mycotoxins which are present in most of the raw materials. Never use rotten maize (maozo) to make chicken feed.
- Buy quality fishmeal from reputable companies. If omena is used the farmers must be sure of its quality; most of the omena in the open-air markets may be contaminated.
- It is very important to mix all the micronutrients (amino acids) first before mixing with the rest of the feed.
- For mixing farmers are advised to use a drum mixer (many jua kali artisans can make one). Never use a shovel to mix feed because the ingredients will be unevenly distributed.
- Spoilt maize is the main source of animal feed in Kenya. Such feed is dangerous as it ends up in human food in eggs, meat and even milk from dairy cows and goats.
- It is easier for small-scale farmers working in groups to buy some of the ingredients such as pre-mixes and amino acids after which they can share the product according to each one’s contribution.
Important: To improve on the feed quality, farmers making their own feeds should always have it tested to ensure the feed is well balanced. The KARI Centre in Naivasha has modern feed testing equipment that can test all nutrients and even the quality of the raw material used. It costs Ksh1000 to test one sample. After preparing your feed, take a 1kg sample; send it by courier to KARI, Naivasha, Tel. 0726 264 032 or 0738 390 715. If you are on email, the centre can send the results to you within 24 hours
Where to buy Raw Material
Farmers who need raw materials for feed making including feed additives (pre-mixes and amino acids) can order them from the following companies:
- Essential Drugs Ltd, E.D.L House, Mombasa Rd, Tel. 020 263 2701/02, 0721 386 604 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tarime suppliers Tel. 0729 099 550, City stadium, Nairobi,Email: email@example.com.