What To Know About Fishmeal for Poultry (Chicken and Turkey)

Last updated on August 6th, 2023 at 06:41 am


This is the process of measuring the number of ingredients needed to form a single diet for poultry that contains all the necessary nutrients they require.

Feed alone takes about 65%-75% of total production expenses in poultry farming, thus a slight mistake in feed formulation may lead to a big loss for the poultry farmer.

Infeed formation, you need a broad knowledge of the following:


(a) required nutrient for the type of poultry bird (e.g., meat chickens, egg layers, or breeders);

(b) feed ingredients in terms of nutrient composition and constraints in terms of nutrition and processing, and

(c) availability and cost of ingredients.

A lot of large-scale farmers have their private feed mills and nutritionists, unlike small-scale farmers who depend on commercial feed mills for their feed.

Hence it is important that feed formulation is done accurately because once they are manufactured, it will be difficult to correct. And if possible, it will cost a lot.

Benefits of fishmeal to poultry

1) Fishmeal has always had the reputation of possessing some unique quality for enhancing animal performance primarily in monogastric animal production including poultry. Thus the use of fishmeal in poultry diets tends to increase the cost of production.

2) Fishmeal is an important constituent in the poultry diet.

3) Its excellent amino acid profile, palatability and high nutritive value are some of the attributes of fishmeal that make it a crucial feed resource in the diet.

4) Fishmeal is a high-quality animal feed used to provide a good balance of essential amino acids, energy, vitamins, minerals and trace elements for poultry.

5) Many investigations have indicated that the nutritive value of chick rations could be enhanced if a reasonable level of fishmeal were included in the ration in addition to the plant protein supplement usually employed in formulating chick’s rations.

6) Fishmeal is recognised as a high-quality, very digestive feed ingredient that is favoured for additions to the diet of most farm animals.

7) It is an excellent source of protein

8) It provides a balanced amount of all essential amino acids, phospholipids and fatty acids for optimum development, growth and reproduction

9) Addition of fishmeal to animal diets increases feed consumption, feed efficiency and growth through better feed palatability and enhances nutrient uptake, digestion and absorption amongst others

However, due to rising cost and uncertainties about fishmeal availability and quality, feed manufacturers are already adopting the use of less expensive, readily available plant protein sources (PPS) as substitutes for fishmeal.

Typical formulation

This requires a knowledge of poultry and feed, and a bit of creativity and patience. That is why this process can be seen as both a science and an art.

Basically, feed formulation shows the quantity of each ingredient that needs to be included in the feed, and also the concentration of nutrients (composition) present in the diet.

The nutrient composition needs to indicate the sufficiency of the diet for the specific type of poultry it is prepared for.

When formulating feed, it is not just necessary to show the energy value (kcal or MJ ME/kg feed) and protein content but detailed information on the extent of mineral elements concentration and digestible amino acids are also made available.

Also Read:  15 Business Opportunities in Anambra State For Investors

These digestible amino acids usually include not just the initial limiting amino acid, methionine, but almost all of the ten essential amino acids. There are a lot of information sources available to give information on the content of digestible amino acid in a variety of poultry feed ingredients.

For instance, Evonik AMINODat is a broad amino acid database known in the world, providing digestibility coefficients for amino acids centred on over 140 raw materials analyses for poultry and pigs.

AMINODat® 5.0 contains an analysis of the total standardized ideal digestible amino acids, amino acids, standardized ideal digestibility coefficients for vital amino acids, minerals and energy values for poultry and pigs.

Feed formulation process

This process entails the matching of the required nutrients of a particular class of animal with the nutrient contents of the existing ingredients in a cost-effective way.

As earlier said, this involves an exhaustive understanding of the requirements of the specific animal, nutrient contents as well as digestibility values, and cost of ingredients.

With this understanding, mathematical formulae are applied to develop the quantity of all ingredient that needs to be included in the diet. Ordinarily, when making use of a few ingredients, the formula is quite simple.

But when there are other ingredients to be considered in different amounts and at different costs implications, more complex formulae are required.

There are various feed formulation packages easily available today that functions above just the simple matching of nutrient requirements and contents of available ingredients.

Though some feed mills provide test diets for assessment in the laboratory or in feeding trials to be sure of the suitability of the diet, the most vital preparation for the precise and cost-effective formulation is to test the chemical structure of the ingredients available for use.

The good thing is today; a lot of feed mills have their individual quality control (QC) laboratories.

The art of feed formulation

This process requires thorough knowledge of animal nutrition, principally the nutrient requirements and composition of the ingredients.

Nutritionists also need to know if using certain quantities of some ingredients will influence on concerns such as pellet quality of the diet, feed flow through the mill, gut health of the animal or response of the diet to feed additives.

In some places, the smell, colour, and particle size of the feed are important considerations by the feed buyer, even though these factors may be insignificant in the nutritional value of the feed.

At the end of the day, feed formulation is mostly about economics; for some procedures, it perhaps means the finest feed conversion effectiveness of the animal. While for others, it possibly means a minimum cost per unit of product yield.

Basic sources of fishmeal

Fishery waste

Fish caught specifically for fish meal production

Fishery waste: The first is fishery waste that is s byproduct of processing fish caught specifically for human consumption e.g.   Salmon and tuna.

Also, included in this source is fish raised for human consumption such as catfish popular in the southern United States

The second source includes fish caught specifically for the production of fishmeal e.g. herring, menhaden, and pollack.

Content Value of fishmeal

  •  Protein Quality
  • Lipid content
  • Amino acids
  • Energy Content
  • Mineral and Vitamin Value
  • Protein Quality of Fishmeal

High-quality fishmeal normally contains between 60% and 72% crude protein by weight

From a nutritional standpoint, fishmeal is the preferred animal protein supplement in the diets of farm animals and often the major source of protein in diets for fish and shrimp.

Also Read:  20 Profitable Business Ideas in Kentucky

Typical diets for fish may contain from 32% to 45% total protein by weight, and diets for shrimp may contain 25% to 42% total protein.

The percentages of inclusion rate of fishmeal in diets for carp and tilapia may be from 5-7%, and up to 40% to 55% in trout, salmon, and some marine fishes
A typical inclusion rate of fishmeal in terrestrial livestock diets is usually 5% or less on a dry matter basis.

Any complete diet must contain some protein, but the nutritional value of the protein relates directly to its amino acid composition and digestibility.

Proteins are made of amino acids, which are released for absorption into the blood following protein digestion. Animals have requirements for specific amino acids rather than protein

Fishmeal and any other feedstuff that contains protein can simply be thought of as a ‘vehicle’ for providing amino acids to the diet. Animals build proteins from combinations of about 22 amino acids.

However, animals cannot make all 22 of these amino acids in their body. Amino acids that cannot be synthesized by the animal, and therefore must be supplied in the diet, are classified as “essential”.

Essential amino acids

The following ten essential amino acids must be contained in the diet of fish:

  • Arginine,
  • Histidine,
  • Isoleucine,
  • Leucine,
  • Lysine,
  • Methionine,
  • Phenylalanine,
  • Threonine,
  • Tryptophan, and
  • Valine.

Amino acids that can be synthesized by the animal are termed “nonessential” and do not have to be added to the diet.

A protein that does not contain the proper amount of a required (essential) amino acid would be considered an imbalanced protein and would have a lower nutritional value.

The amino acid present in the least amount relative to the animal’s requirement for that particular amino acid is referred to as the “limiting” amino acid.

Lipid Content in Fishmeal

The lipids in fishes can be separated into liquid fish oils and solid fats. Although most of the oil usually gets extracted during the processing of the fishmeal, the remaining lipid typically represents between 6% and 10% by weight but can range from 4% to 20%

Fish lipids are highly digestible by all species of animals and are excellent sources of the essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in both the omega-3 and omega-6 families of fatty acids.

The predominant omega-3 fatty acids in fishmeal and fish oil are linolenic acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

Both DHA and EPA fatty acids are produced and passed along the food chain by small-size algae and zooplankton, which are consumed by fish

Fishmeal and oil contain more omega-3, than omega-6 fatty acids. In contrast, most plant lipids contain higher concentrations of omega-6 fatty acids.

For example, oil extracted from soybeans, corn, or cottonseed is rich in linoleic acid, and omega -6 fatty acid

Some oils, like that canola linolenic acid (of the omega-3 family), however, its conversion into essential DHA and EPA by most animal may be limited.
The beneficial effects of lipids in fish diets are particularly evident in the structure and function of cell membranes.

The cell membrane is a semi-permeable and flexible layer that encloses each cell in animals and controls the passage of nutrients and other substances in and out of the cell interior.

The cell membrane protects the cell and is composed primarily of lipids, proteins, and some carbohydrates.

Because of their fatty acid composition, lipids permit cell membranes to maintain their fluidity in decreasing or increasing water temperatures and cushion cells from the dramatic pressure changes that fish encounter at varying depths in the water column.

Also Read:  30 Rewarding Business Ideas In Sports

Essential fatty acids are necessary for normal larval development, fish growth, and reproduction.

They are important in the normal development of the skin, nervous system, brain, and visual acuity.

PUFAs appear to assist the immune system in defence of disease agents and reduce the stress response.

Fishmeal also contains valuable phospholipids, fat-soluble vitamins, and steroid hormones.

Energy Content in Fishmeal

The lipids in fishmeal not only impart an excellent profile of essential fatty acids but also provide a high content of energy to the diet.

Since there is very little carbohydrate in fish meal, the energy content of fish meal relates directly to the percentage of protein and oil it contains.

The quantity and quality of oil in fishmeal will, in turn, depend on the species, physiology, sex, reproductive status, age, feeding habits of the captured fish, and the method of processing

The lipids in fishmeal and fish oil are easily digested by all animals, especially fish, shrimp, poultry, pigs, and ruminants such as cows, sheep, and goats.

In these animals, the lipid digestibility is 90% or greater
The high digestibility of fish lipids means they can provide lots of usable energy.

If a diet does not provide enough energy, the fish or shrimp will have to break down valuable protein for energy, which is expensive and can increase the production of toxic ammonia.

Good quality fishmeal contains antioxidants or compounds that reduce the possibility of damage from highly reactive toxic substances which are continually produced at the molecular level in animal cells.

For example, lipids especially PUFAs, are easily damaged and become rancid when exposed to oxygen, a process known as oxidation and one that releases heat

The use of antioxidants in the preservation of fishmeal is essential in order to stabilize its energy acids, and energy content makes fishmeal an indispensable ingredient diet of most aquaculture species and many land-farm animals.

Because of its nutrient content, high digestibility and palatability, fishmeal serves as the benchmark ingredient in aquaculture diets

Mineral and Vitamin Value of Fishmeal

When a sample of feed is taken to the laboratory and analyzed for nutrient content, the procedure involves burning a portion of the sample. Ash is the material remaining after the feed sample is completely burned.

Normally, the ash content of good-quality fishmeal averages between 17% and 25%.

More ash indicates a higher mineral content, especially calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Calcium and phosphorus constitute the majority of the ash found in fishmeal. Unlike the phosphorus in plants, phosphorus in fishmeal is in a form highly available to most animals

The phosphorus in plants is not as readily available to monogastric animals because it is primarily in the organic form known as phytate.

Ruminants such as cows, sheep, and goats are able to utilize phosphorus in phytate due to the microbial population in their rumen, which is one of the four compartments in the stomach of ruminants.

The vitamin content of fishmeal is highly variable and influenced by several factors, such as the origin and composition of the fishmeal processing method, and product freshness

The content of fat-soluble vitamins in fishmeal is relatively low because of their removal during the extraction of the oil.

Fishmeal is considered to be a moderately rich source of vitamins of the B-complex especially cobalamine (B12), niacin, choline, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top