Improving chicken nutrition – new app helps farmers get feed mixes right
A free mobile app for chicken farmers is set to make optimal poultry nutrition easier, while also helping farmers save money and improve profits.
The FeedMixer App, now available on the Apple and Google Play Stores, is designed by poultry nutrition experts at the Poultry Science Department at the University of Georgia in the US and funded by the World Poultry Foundation, to address a major challenge farmers face.
Chicken farmers around the world are increasingly self-mixing their chicken feed due to rising commercial feed costs and limited supply of certain grains in some areas. However, many farmers find it challenging to achieve the right balance of grains, oils and other available ingredients to ensure optimal nutrition for different types of birds at different stages.
Prof. Sean Chen, Assistant Professor/Extension Specialist at the Department of Poultry Science at the University of Georgia, says: “Many new and emerging farmers don’t realise that chickens have different nutrient needs at different stages of life, or that they need to feed broilers differently from layers.”
Prof. Chen explains: “Preparing the feed for birds is akin to preparing the materials for building a house. Just as using the right types and amounts of materials is crucial for reducing costs and ensuring high efficiency in construction, selecting the appropriate feed components is essential for optimising bird health and productivity while minimising resource wastage.
We feed various types of feed mixes to different breeds of birds because different breeds have distinct characteristics and purposes. For instance, broiler chickens are primarily raised for meat production. These chickens grow rapidly and require a diet supporting muscle development and efficient feed conversion into meat. Broiler chickens need feeds rich in proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to ensure optimal growth and flavourful meat production. On the other hand, laying hens are specifically bred to produce a consistent supply of eggs. They require a different set of nutrients to support their reproductive system and the formation of solid eggshells. Their diet should include adequate proteins, vitamins, minerals, and calcium to support strong eggshell and egg production.
If we were to feed different breeds of chickens with the same diets, it would be akin to using identical materials to construct various types of buildings. This approach would likely impact the quality of the buildings or could result in wastage. So it is important to optimise feed mixes based on the specific breed of chickens, which can enhance their productivity and health while saving on feed costs. The FeedMixer app can help you achieve these goals.”
The new FeedMixer App, a relaunch of an older version of the app, makes feed mixing easier by calculating whether the feed mixtures farmers use contain the right balance of key nutrients, by age, type of chickens, and available ingredients.
Maureen Stickel, Director of International Program Development at the World Poultry Foundation, says: “The FeedMixer app is designed to guide farmers on feed mixes for layers, broilers, and dual-purpose birds at various ages, as nutritional needs vary by age and purpose. We specifically worked to include a large library of feed ingredients, with their nutritional values, to guide farmers who might have trouble accessing traditional feed ingredients such as soy or corn due to cost or local availability.”
Prof. Chen says: “The FeedMixer app is designed for ease of use by people with a basic poultry background – including backyard and emerging chicken farmers. We have built a comprehensive library of ingredients, and we are constantly expanding it to include common ingredients available around the world. With the app, we are trying to make it simple for farmers to use local ingredients to formulate a diet that meets basic poultry nutrition requirements and achieve their basic production goals.”
Says Stickel: “When feeding birds, it’s about nutrients, not just quantity of feed. With the right feed mix, they will be healthier and more productive.”
Users simply click on the type of chickens they are feeding, and select the ingredients they have available to them, such as maize, cassava, oil, bran, soybean meal, fish meal, and salt, in the proportions they intend to blend. The app will indicate whether their chosen feed mix delivers adequate energy, protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals to efficiently nourish the birds without wastage. Users can input the cost of the ingredients they use, to calculate whether their feed mix is cost effective, and they can save their own feed mix formulas in the app for future reference.
FeedMixer is available in English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese, and offers useful content and resources such as preloaded feed mix examples for different types of birds, and diet guidelines for each breed and age of bird.
Farmers Review Africa: https://farmersreviewafrica.com/optimising-chicken-nutrition-new-app-helps-farmers-get-feed-mixes-right/#:~:text=The%20FeedMixer%20app%20guides%20farmers,values%2C%20to%20guide%20farmers.%E2%80%9D
Bizcommunity Agriculture South Africa: https://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/707/241648.html
Agri Review Africa: https://agrireviewwestafrica.com/2023/09/06/