Broiler chickens being put through a trial at the NARI feed testing facility in Lae
By JANET PANDI of NARI
In any commercial poultry enterprise, be it broiler chickens, ducks or layers, 70-80% of the cost of production comes from feed.
Feed is the major constraint faced by smallholder broiler farmers in
. Compounded (mixed) feed is expensive and in most instances there may be no
feed mill or mixed feed is not readily available. Papua
Currently, commercially produced broiler feeds are expensive because most of the ingredients used in the formulation are imported from overseas.
Smallholder broiler farmers have been paying the high price of commercial broiler feeds.
The approach of using locally-available feed resources for cheaper and low density feeds will lead to less cost of feed needed to grow broiler chickens in PNG.
This would reduce input costs and improve profitability of this enterprise as there are adequate supplies of resources such as fishmeal, cassava, sweet potato, fresh coconut and corn, which could form the basis of the feed industry throughout PNG.
Additionally, mini and micro feed mills could be established to make diets in areas where local feed supply is plentiful.
Adoption of the feeding system is considered a solution for the viability of village broiler farming in PNG which is a potential method of supporting smallholder poultry operations in other areas of the Pacific region.
NARI research has developed alternative feeding strategies that are efficient, productive and profitable for small scale broiler farmers.
Four alternative feeding strategies have been investigated for broiler feeding:
1. Using the concentrates to bulk up with local feed resources such as sweet potato or cassava;
2. Diluting or blending of the commercial finisher with local materials in the finishing stages;
3. Complete ration formulation using locally available resources, and
4. Choice feeding.
Formulation of feed is a complex procedure as different feed ingredients must be blended together. Each feed ingredient has a given nutritive value, and inclusion of one will affect the nutritive value of the other.
There are many factors that affect the capabilities of birds to digest and absorb nutrients; however, the fact remains that chickens eat to meet their energy requirement and will eat more if the feed is low in energy and will eat less if the feed contains more energy than is required.
This is true provided all other factors are conducive.
Formulation of broiler diets using local ingredients is possible provided the diet that is formulated meets the nutritional requirements of these birds in their different stages of growth, such as starter and finisher phases.
Feed ingredients are mixed according to a special recipe to provide a balanced diet.
Often, only very few suitable ingredients (feedstuffs) are produced in the country and most are imported.
In PNG, some of such resources that have potential to be used in formulating feed are fish meal, copra meal, palm kernel meal, brewery waste, wheat bran and rice bran.
But these are largely inadequate for formulating a high quality, commercial poultry diet especially for broilers and layers.
Synthetic amino acids (lysine and methionine), minerals and vitamins must be included in these formulations in order to have a well-balanced feed.
Local resources that can be used as ingredients in least cost or lower density diets are classified below:
Energy sources: Mostly grains such as corn (maize), wheat, barley, oats and rice. Alternative energy sources include cereals and milling by-products such as wheat and rice bran, roots and tubers such as cassava, sweet potatoes, fruits and by-products such as banana and plantain, papaya, and other miscellaneous products such molasses (by-product of sugar cane industry) and fats (palm oil, coconut oil, animal fats).
Protein sources: About 20% of a poultry diet needs to be protein and some of its sources are legumes such as soybeans or soybean meal (cooked or heat-treated), leguminous forage, field peas and beans. Alternative sources are copra meal, palm kernel meal, brewers’ and distillers’ by-products. Most of these alternate protein sources are poor in two essential amino acids, methionine and lysine, and would often require synthetic amino acids to be included. Animal protein meals include fish meal, blood and bone meal and dairy by-products.
Mineral Sources: Needed at 3-4 % inclusion rate in diets. Important mineral sources are yeast (also have B-complex vitamins), green fodder (also contain B-complex vitamins, vitamin A), alfalfa meal, dairy by-products (whey, buttermilk), brewery wastes, animal by-products and milling by-products (bran, middlings). Limestone or oyster shell, bone meal and salt are also very useful. Scavenging poultry may get their trace minerals from wood ashes.
Vitamin Sources: Ideal sources are commercial premixes.
Under warm and wet conditions of much of PNG, the formulated feed must be properly stored and must not be kept for more than a month.
A recent poultry survey (2003) in Morobe, Madang and
Highlands indicates that broiler chicken farming in these regions
(small-scale) provides additional income for families. Most farmers raise
broilers out of their own initiative despite high feed and travel costs. But demand
for live birds is high and there is a community agreement over prices. These farmers
expressed concerns over prices of feeds, limited access to information and lack
of assistance from government systems. Survey respondents welcomed extension
and advisory services on low cost and alternative feed options.
Research by NARI using a feed testing facility resulted in the availability of a database on apparent metabolisable energy values of some common ingredients found around the country. These values have been combined with other chemical composition values from literatures and are available at NARI. Training on feed formulations can also be conducted and skills passed on to facilitators or trainers and farmers to utilise the knowledge to be creative and innovative in formulating their own feeds using local materials.
The PNG smallholder broiler chicken production has a gross value of AUD$6.7million per annum and profitability can be increased with reductions in feed costs through greater use of local feed resources.