Animal feeds and feeding have to do with animal nutrition. This is all about the proper feeding of farm animals so as to achieve good growth and body conformation of the animals, and for increased productive capacity. It tends to exemplify how food supplies nutrients to animals, and how their bodies utilize these nutrients.
Meaning of Feed
Livestock feeds are those food materials such as hay, straw, roughages, grasses and legumes, as well as concentrates, fed to farm animals to nourish their bodies, and achieve high returns. For this to be possible, the livestock farmer must have to ensure the supply of adequate and appropriate quantity and quality of feed stuff in their nutrition. Nutrition on the other hand, is the application of scientific knowledge to the day-to-day feeding of livestock. The ultimate objective in feeding livestock is the conversation of the food fed into useful animal products. Much of the feed for livestock are either inedible to man, or surplus for his immediate requirement.
Types Of Feeds
i. Energy Yielding Feeds: Carbohydrates are energy giving or basal organic compounds, having hydrogen, oxygen and carbon (CHO) as their components. They provide bulk of livestock feeds with hydrogen and oxygen occurring in the ratio of 2:1. Excess carbohydrates are stored in the liver and muscles, and may be converted to fats and stored under the skin. Sources of carbohydrates for livestock feed include cereals (maize, millet, guinea corn, etc), cassava tubers and peels, yam peels, banana and plantain peels, rice and wheat bran, etc. They constitutes 60%-90% of livestock rations.
ii. Protein-Yielding Feeds: Proteins are large complex molecules containing carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen; sometimes sulphur and phosphorus. The basic units are amino acids. Plant sources of proteins for livestock include soya bean meals, groundnut cake, palm kernel cake, cotton seed meal, sunflower seed meal, legume pasture, etc. Animal sources for livestock include fish meal, blood meal, meat offal, etc. The functions of protein in animal feed are growth and body building, repair of damaged tissues, replacement of worn-out tissues, source of energy in times of needs, formation of enzymes, hormones and blood, as well as strengthening anti-bodies.
iii. Fats And Oils (Lipids): Both fats and oils are referred to as lipids. Fats are solid at room temperature, while oils are liquid. They are energy producing groups of food with carbon, hydrogen and small amount of oxygen. They form an indispensable part of the animals brain, heart, kidney, liver, egg and milk. Where they yield their energy by the process of oxidation. Fat as a poor conductor of heat, helps in body temperature maintenance. Fats and oil protect vital body organs. They are energy reservoir, and store fat-soluble vitamins. Sources of fat include oil seeds like groundnuts, palm kernel, coconut, soya bean, etc.
iv. Minerals: The mineral yielding feeds contain elements needed for their importance in the vital body activities. Mineral are left as ash when a living thing is oven dried to a constant weight. Animals generally require up to 17 elements of minerals. These are classified into macro and micro nutrients. The macro or major nutrients are required by animal in relatively large or appreciable quantities. They include nitrogen, iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, chlorine, potassium, sodium and sulphur. The micro nutrient elements are referred to as trace elements. They are needed in relatively smaller amounts but vitally necessary in body activities of the animals. They are iodine, cobalt, copper, zinc, selenium and manganese. Only their traces suffice. Their functions include formation of skeletal structures of the animals like the teeth, bones, egg shells in poultry, etc.
They serve in the formation of body fluids like blood, lymph, etc. Sources include bone meal, fish meal, blood meal, grasses and legume forages, cereal grains, oyster shell meal, salt licks and synthetic mineral supplements.
v. Vitamin-Yielding Feeds: Vitamins are essential complex organic compounds required for normal growth and development of the livestock and maintenance of living things generally. They are grouped into water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins.
The fat-soluble vitamins are essential in maintaining the epithelial tissues, calcium and phosphorous metabolism, bone calcification, normal production in hatching eggs and blood clothing among other functions. Sources of vitamins for the livestock include, green forages, yellow maize, colostrum, wheat offal, yeast, cereal grains, soya beans, rice bran, silage, legumes, leafy vegetables, etc.
vi. Feed Supplements And Concentrates: Feed supplements are those feed materials given to animals to supply deficient nutrients. They are usually rich in protein and may contain also reasonable quantities of minerals and vitamins fed either separately or mixed with other feeds.
Concentrate feeds are feed mixtures or feeds providing the primary dietary needs of animal like protein, carbohydrates, fats and oils, minerals and vitamins. They are either whole-grain feeds or feed mixtures of supplemental basal feeds. Examples of supplements and concentrates include bone meal, fish meal, groundnut and palm kernel cakes, cotton seed cake and oyster shell meal.
They are devices or equipment used in feeding farm animals. Mono-gastric farm animals are fed mostly with mash prepared from cereals such as maize, guinea corn, millet, etc. Concentrates and Supplements are added to enrich the mash. The devices for feeding livestock range from feeding and watering troughs, to feeds processing tools such as spades, shovels, grinders, buckets, as well scooping bowels. The various types of feeding tools include the following:
a. Feeding Troughs: They are devices made of wood, metal or plastic that is used for placing animal feeds in the pen. For the poultry, they long, shallow and rectangular shape. For other farm animals, they can be made spherical, round, rectangular, or square-like, open on the top and not very deep. The type used would depend on the age, size, and type of animals. For pigs, concrete feed bunks are constructed; for sheep and goats, feed buckets and hay rack are used. The hay racks are stands built to hold hay, straw or other forages used for feeding farm animals especially the ruminants.
b. Water/Drinking Troughs: These tools are used for holding water for farm animals in the pens or in the ranges. Feeding/Watering Trough can also be used for drug administration to animals by dissolving the drugs in the water. Drinking tools for farm animals can be in the form of bowls. They are mostly made with plastic materials or metals, and are of different sizes and shapes.
Feeds processing tools may be used for mixing the feeds, sieving, grinding, drying or frying then. They include, spades, shovels, buckets, scooping bowls, grinders, sieves, deep frying pots, etc.