Non Conventional Feed Resources for Poultry Industry: Needs, Benefits, Constraints and Its Prospect

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The poultry industry is an important aspect of the livestock subsector in India with a potential to solve the problem of malnutrition, unemployment and augmenting rural economy. As feed constitutes 60-70 % of the total cost of production. This high feed cost may lead to a decrease in animal production (Ibeawuchi, et al 2000) which contributes to low protein intake. This vicious cycle of low productivity and intake of animal protein has been maintained and sustained by the scarcity of feeding stuff especially cereals occasioned by the fact that the available conventional sources such as maize are shared by humans. A major gap exists between the demand and supply of conventional feed resources for feeding livestock in the world. In order to manage this problem of demand and supply, it is essential to increase the availability of conventional feed resources for the different livestock production and management systems. But most poultry feeds have very similar characteristics being low in fiber and essentially cereal based, as such often comprise between 50 and 75% of the diet. Cereal grains such as maize, grain sorghum, wheat, and barley contribute most of the carbohydrates to poultry diets. It is therefore clear that feeding of poultry presents a challenge to farmers. This is because poultry shares the same similarity with humans in terms of its nutrient requirements and the fact that cereal grains such as maize used in formulating poultry rations are equally consumed by humans. Also, the production level of these very important cereal grains has not been adequate to meet the growing needs of the poultry industry. So its need to improve the scientific knowledge for utilizing low cost locally available agro-industrial by-products in poultry feed in order to reduce the feed cost.

Attempts to utilize locally available cheap by-products may benefit the end users in reducing the feed cost which in turn can reduce the total cost of production of meat and egg and making them easily available at a cheaper cost in rural India. The traditional sources of vitamins and proteins used in poultry rations such as fish meal, meat and bone meal, soybean meal, groundnut cake, etc. are becoming expensive in developed countries. The availability of such feed ingredients is not adequate because of the spiraling cost of raw materials and ever-increasing competition with human beings for the same food items. Hence, the search for alternative feed sources has become inevitable to reduce feed cost. One method is to exploit the use of non-conventional feed resources (NCFR) in livestock production systems (Ben Salem et al, 2004).

USDA, 2014

Non-conventional feed resources (NCFR)

Most of NCFR feed resources are low in energy, protein, minerals and contain high amounts of anti-nutritional components (Ben Salem et al, 2004). The major constraints to the use of NCFR are a collection, storage, dehydration (due to high moisture content) and detoxification processes. Processing technologies that are economic and practical are urgently required. Some of the materials like sal seed meal, neem seed cake, mahua seed cake, and galas seed cake are available in large quantities but due to the presence of potentially toxic substances, have limited value in animal feeds. Many of the forest tree seeds contain 15-35 percent oil and are used for the extraction of oil, after which the cake is valuable as animal feeds. Animal organic wastes such as dung and poultry excreta are also potentially available as a part of animal feeds.

Non-conventional feed resources (NCFR) generally refer to all those feeds that have not been traditionally used for feeding livestock and are not commercially used in the production of livestock feeds. Several known examples include palm leaf meals, palm press fiber, cassava foliage, spent brewer’s grains, sugar cane bagasse, rubber seed meal and some aquatic plants (Chadhokar, 1984). The term NCFR has been frequently used to describe sources such as oil palm by-products, single-cell proteins and feed materials derived from agro-industrial by-products of plant and animal origin, poor-quality cellulosic roughages from farm residues and other agro-industrial by-products such as slaughter-house by-products and those from the processing of sugar, cereal grains, citrus fruits and vegetables from the processing of food for human consumption also comes under category of NCFR.

Need for Non-conventional feed resources

  • Serious shortages in animal feed of the conventional type.

  • With an increasing demand for livestock products as a result of rapid growth in the world economies and shrinking land area, future hopes of feeding the animals and safeguarding their food security will depend on the better utilization of unconventional feed resources which do not compete with human food.

  • Non-conventional feeds could partly fill the gap in the feed supply, decrease competition for food between humans and animals, reduce feed cost, and contribute to self-sufficiency in nutrients from locally available feed sources.

Characteristics of nonconventional feeds

  • They are mainly organic and can be in a solid, slurry or liquid form

  • Their economic value is less than that the cost of collection and transportation for use thus referred to as wastes

  • Some feeds contain toxic factors and have a deleterious effect on animals. For example Castor bean meal, neem seed cake

  • These are by-products of food production systems that have not been used, recycled or salvaged.

  • They have considerable potential as feed materials. In the case of feeds, their value can be increased if processing techniques are employed.

Generation of NCFR

The generation of non-conventional feed resources is essentially from agriculture and various agro-based industries and is a function of many factors. Such factors include the quantity and quality of the materials produced which is dependent on the prevailing agro-climatic conditions and cropping patterns, the type of raw materials, the production process, the production rate, the type of inputs used, the regulations affecting product quality use and the constraints imposed upon effluent discharge(Devendra, 1985) Most non-conventional resources are usually regarded as waste so, they can be used to supplement the existing limited feed resources. Recycling, reprocessing and utilization of all or a portion of the wastes, offers the possibility of returning these materials to beneficial use as opposed to the traditional methods of disposal and relocation of the same residues. The demonstration of potential value can thus make any of these waste products new feeds of value and importance.

Processing of NCFR to complete feeds and Total mixed ration

  • Before feeding Nonconventional feedstuffs they must be well processed- (chaffing, grinding (8 mm) and pelleting) and mixed into a uniform blend that discourages selection.

  • For this, the concept of “complete ration” is identified in which large numbers of Unconventional feeds are used to prepare proper nutrient ration to the animal.

  • Expander extruder method is of importance in processing of such feeds.

  • Expanding-application of moisture, pressure, temperature to gelatinize the starch portion.

  • Extruding-pressing the feeds through constrictions under pressure.


New, local industry will benefit from recycling waste by-products and the benefits from it lead to the following features.

  1. Environmental sanitation- the sanitary disposal of offal, such as the by-products of the slaughterhouse, presents great difficulties. Not only does this offal attract vermin and present danger of spreading disease, but it also tends to decompose, rapidly forming an ideal substrate for microorganisms and leads to objectionable odors. Burning or burying of inedible offal, or its use as fertilizer leads to a total loss of potential by-products and, unless properly carried out, it may also lead to spread in disease (El Boushy, 1990). The effluents from slaughterhouses and from the processing of potatoes, citrus, grapes, and wine, were purified, it would be possible to reuse wastewater and produce a sludge that could be used in a dry form for livestock and poultry feeding purposes. The sludge could also be activated by means of micro-organisms that use the organic material as a substrate to provide a higher nutritional value in comparison with the original sludge.

  1. Livestock health and productive agriculture- offal can be used either to manufacture fertilizers or livestock feedstuffs depending on the speed with which they are handled and the freshness of the raw materials.

  1. Price structure- the use of by-products and recycling waste will influence the price of meat and eggs and the price paid in foreign currency (owing to the imports of fish meal or soybean products used as feedstuffs from Benefits of feed from waste abroad) to the producer of livestock. Depending on local circumstances, the return derived from the use of by-products (animal, vegetable and fruit wastes) may be used to decrease the prices of meat and eggs to the consumer or to give the livestock producers more gain for their product and by-products.

  1. Creation of new employment- there is no doubt that the disposal of waste (inedible offal, fruit, and vegetables, tannery or municipal refuse) needs little or no manpower in developing market economies. The conversion of offal, however, into valuable by-products creates new employment and skills at the place of production.

  1. Reducing imports of feedstuffs (foreign currency) by upgrading local waste- If a local industry such as the poultry industry is able to transfer all the offals by rendering and produce poultry offal meal (blood, feet, heads, intestines, and feathers), a product will be created with high nutritive value. This application may lower the present imports of feedstuffs, fertilizers, cereals and soya, animal products and total agricultural products that require foreign currency.


  • Limited knowledge of the chemical composition and feeding values of Nonconventional feeds.

  • Most of NCFR contains Anti-Nutritional factors thus not suitable for use in animal feed, And little knowledge about their characterization, quantification in ingredient, and their long-range effects on animal health and productivity.

  • Nonavailability of NCFR in large quantities. Production is scattered in definite areas.

  • Availability is restricted to the particular season in a year. And no storage facility.

  • Lack of managerial and technical skills utilizes the feed in situ.

  • Processing difficulties: Difficulties in the collection, handling, transportation, and processing of these feeds.

Limiting factors for the use of non-conventional feed

Nutritional aspects

  • Variability in nutrient level and quality (soil, climate [temperature, rain], variety, harvest method, processing)

  • Presence of naturally occurring anti-nutritional and/or toxic factors (alkaloids, non-starch polysaccharides, glycosides, tartrates, heavy metals)

  • Presence of pathogenic micro-organisms (Salmonellae; present if waste is not processed/ sterilized properly)

  • Need for supplementation (minerals, most limiting essential amino acids)

Technical aspects

  • Seasonal and unreliable supply (need for storage) (wine, apple, dates; duration of transport) Bulkiness, wetness and/or powdery texture (need for pelleting) (Brewers' spent grains; poultry manure, sludge; potato starch)

  • Processing requirements (drying, detoxification) (availability of machinery; knowledge of processing; energy source)

  • Lack of research and development efforts (feed industries) (cooperation developed/developing countries; transfer of knowledge) (Modified after Ravindran and Blair, 1991).