With a global population of 7.7 billion people and growing, there is a great amount of pressure on agricultural resources and the farming ecosystem to provide healthy food sources. To meet this demand, farmers ensure that the livestock products available on the market meet the highest standards of health and safety by sourcing the best feed grains and feed products for livestock.
Animal feeds comprise of feed products that are special foods manufactured particularly for domesticated animals. They are designed to keep their bodies healthy, while improving the quality of their products. Each type of animal has their own category of animal feed, which contains all the essential nutrients required for their wellbeing.
In layman terms, ‘feed grain for livestock’ is the term applied to the food that is given to a range of animals, including cattle, sheep, camels, goats, among others, during the course of their growth to ensure that the animal is in prime health for farm work, as well as, human consumption.
There are two main types of animal feeds.
1. Fodder: food provided to an animal
2. Forage: plant material eaten by the animal through grazing
For the purpose of this article, we will mainly be dealing with animal fodder.
Fodder refers to the particular foods given to animals rather than what they forage for themselves. It includes hay, straw, silage, compressed and pelleted feeds, oils and mixed rations, and sprouted grains and legumes.
Traditionally, animal feed included household food scraps, and the by-products of food-processing industries such as milling and brewing. Material remaining from milling oil crops like peanuts, soy, and corn were important sources of fodder. However, as the scale of agrarian enterprises grows, these subsistence-sized practices is not sustainable.
This is where commercially-produced compound feed grains, that are a blend of various raw materials and additives, come in. These feed grains are formulated according to the specific requirements of the target animal. They are manufactured by feed grain companies as meal type, pellets or crumbles. Some of the main ingredients in commercially manufactured feed grains include, corn, soya bean, grain sorghum, oats, rye and barley, and form the most important source of animal feed globally.
In agriculture today, the nutritional needs of farm animals are well understood, and are often met through a combination of natural foraging and fodder, as well as augmented through supplementary nutrients. The nutritional quality of feed is influenced not only by its content, but also by many other factors such as feed presentation, hygiene, digestibility, effect on intestinal health, as well as feed additives (INSERT LINK TO AGRI BLOG 4), which all collectively meet any deficiencies that arise in animals to ensure the animal’s health, wellbeing and suitability for human consumption .
Feeding production animals and meeting their correct nutritional requirements means more than just supplying sufficient proteins, energy and water. Many secondary conditions determine the economic output in animal production. That is why, industry leaders in feed grains and feed products aim to provide grains with additives that optimize the nutritional value of a feed, its digestibility and safety, to in turn, provide livestock owners a consistent high return on investment.
Tying into the animal feed-grain industry, is the supporting agriculture ecosystem that grows plants specifically for fodder. These include the following crops:
• Alfalfa (lucerne)
• Corn (maize)
• Birdsfoot trefoil
• Brassica: (kale, rapeseed [canola], rutabaga, turnip)
• Clover (alsike clover, red clover, subterranean clover, white clover)
• Grass (Bermuda, brome, false oat grass, Rhodes, fescue, heath grass, orchard grass, ryegrass, Timothy-grass, meadow grass, ryegrass)
These grains, legumes and grasses are combined in varying mixtures and proportions to make feed grains for different animals.
Animal feed grains are not only a healthy, animal-specific mix of the crops mentioned above, but are also a blend of additional raw materials and additives. Commercially-manufactured feed grains, include some of the following:
• Biochar for cattle is carbonized biomass similar to charcoal, that is often used in acute medical treatment of animals, especially cattle, for many centuries. Since 2010, livestock farmers increasingly use biochar as a regular feed supplement to improve animal health, increase nutrient intake efficiency and productivity.
• Bran is a popular livestock feed that has the advantage of being very palatable to most animals. Wheat bran is a bulky feed that can be used to lighten dense, heavy feed mixtures that can be readily incorporated into mashes.
• Forage plants - hay and silage, (especially conserved), are grasses, legumes, corn silage, and alfalfa, that are commercially bailed or processed to be sold to feed cattle.
• Compound feeds, premixes and concentrates: Often sold as pellets, nuts or (cattle) cake, compound feeds are commercially prepared feed grains that include a blended, or individual rations of corn, soybeans, sorghum, oats and barley. Premixes are composed of micro ingredients like vitamins, minerals, chemical preservatives, antibiotics, fermentation products, among others, that can be used for blending with rations of commercial feed grains. Sold as concentrates, farmers can make formulated blends that are animal-targeted.
• Crop residues: Crop residues are the leaves and stalk like stover, copra, straw, chaff, sugar-beet waste that are processed to make feed grains for animals. Poorer in quality and nutritional value, this kind of forage feed grain is most used on smaller-scale livestock farms in developing countries.
• Fish meal is a commercial product mostly made from fish, that is generally used in combination with feed grain mixtures to feed farm animals in agricultural settings. Calorically dense and cheap to produce, fishmeal has played a critical role in the growth of factory farms on account of the number of farm animals it is possible to breed and feed.
• Green Maize and corn: A major feed grain, corn is a standard component of livestock diets, where it is used as a source of energy. Maize cobs, and dry and green stalks of maize are also used as animal feeding materials in the form of feed grains, along with wheat straw, wheat and rice bran. These, combined with proportions of oilseed, alfalfa, forages and grasses, hay of food crops, shrubs, tree leaves, molasses and the pulp of fruits and vegetables, are commercially combined and sold as feed products for animals.
These grains are available from commercial feed providers in individual or mixed rations, with added nutrients and additives so that animals can easily digest and process them.
In addition to some of the ingredients mentioned above, the following products are also added to commercially-produced fed grains to ensure the healthiest proportions of nutrients to animals:
• Endotoxin reducers
• Phytogenic products
• Raw materials
• Water-soluble minerals
• Water-soluble vitamins
• Yeast derivatives
For any subsistence farming enterprise looking to grow, or for established livestock farming units, manufacturing the perfect feed product for a variety of animals is a time-consuming, costly task. Buying commercial feed grains and feed products from established enterprises provides small seeds, grain and brassicas, from the best global merchants and mills direct to livestock producers, thereby facilitating the farming and livestock supply chains.
Using the most modern equipment and technology, commercial feed grain providers source top quality feed grains, thereby helping farmers grow and maximize their profitability across livestock production exclusively.
Feeding livestock grain can be a very expensive process and has to be undertaken by farmers with care. Costing, in relation to quality of product, becomes a very important factor in buying feed grains. That is why, going to an informed, professional and reliable feed-grain provider becomes even more important. Weighing the advantages of each feed type, energy values, dry matter content, requirement for daily stock, use, availability and suitability has a direct bearing on the health and lifespan of a farmer’s livestock.
Equally, the traceability and quality of the feed grain is of paramount consideration. A company that understands the conversion of pasture to animal feed products, the seasonal nutritional needs, supplements, as well as, the possible pitfalls and deficiencies that may arise from over and under, or improper use, from these, becomes very important.
That is why a feed product supplier in touch with international trends, as well as, with regional requirements is needed to help facilitate farmers and livestock producers. Equally, a commitment to research and sourcing of top-quality animal feed and feed products and premixes that are appreciated by farmers around the world, becomes imperative.
That is why Agri, a subsidiary of Arab Bulk Trading, is committed to providing livestock farmers and owners in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and regionally, with the best-quality animal feeds for over 40 years. With a logistics shipping and transport network that spans the width and expanse of the Kingdom, as well direct, and third-party logistics solutions at hand, Agri is equipped to provide regional livestock farmers with the healthiest and most productive, feed products in the market.