livestock feed rationsIn preparing feed rations, a volunteer should consider: the nutrient requirements of the species, the breed of the animal, the feeding and management practices of the farmer, the cost of available feeds, the nutrient values of all available feeds, and the probable feed to gain ratio for the animal with the ration. These considerations are important because of their effect on the farmer’s profit and the health of the animal. The mathematical process of balancing a feed ration and the actual hand mixing of a feed ration will be covered in class. The quality of the feed ration should always match the level of production for each farmer.

In balancing feed rations we will use either Metabolizable Energy, Total Digestive Nutrients, or Digestable Energy as the measure of the energy value of the feed. Crude Protein or Digestable Protein will be used to measure protein percentages. Lysine will be the only amino acid that we balance for because it is the most limiting of the amino acids in its effects on growth. Calcium and phosphorus levels are critical in the rations of animals in production–growth, egg production, and lactation. Calcium and phosphorus share a close relationship in bone formation and metabolism. Therefore we will balance the levels of these 2 major minerals in our feed rations.

It should be noted that all feed ingredients fall into 1 of the following categories:

1. Dry forages and roughages
2. Pasture, range plants, and forages fed green
3. Silages
4. Energy feeds
5. Protein supplements
6. Minerals
7. Vitamins
8. Additives

Furthermore, generally, monogastrics need higher quality protein than ruminants which can consume more bulk and high fiber. Protein quality varies from high to low in different feeds such as fish meal to corn. Grains contain little Calcium. For monogastrics, high level production feeds always contain a source of animal protein in order to provide complete amino acid balance. Ruminants, unlike monogastrics, can synthesize protein from simple nitrogen compounds. Carbohydrates, lipids (fats & oils), protein, minerals, vitamins, and water are the 6 classes of nutrients required for maintenance, growth, and reproduction.

Listed below are many different feed ingredients and information on their use in feed rations, preparation, and limitations.

1. Alfalfa
Perennial, leguminous forage plant. Can be fed green to rabbits or cut, sun dried, and stored for hay to be fed to ruminants. Can be ground into a meal for use in rations for monogastrics. Limit of 20% in swine and chicken rations. Limit of 22% moisture content during storage.

2. Bananas
Fill problem. Can be unpalatable and toxic if green. Meets 50 to 75% of energy requirements in all animals.

3. Barley
Poor protein quality. Barley should be ground or crushed except for sheep or when fed with other whole grains to poultry. Can cause bloat in cattle. Can replace corn for swine and chickens with a slight drop (10 to 30%) in weight gain. Produces eggs with a very light colored yolk.

4. Beans, field
Poor protein quality, low in amino acids. Feed beans only to pigs and chickens, entire pod to goats and rabbits. Sun dry, limit to 40% of protein requirement.

5. Beet pulp
Rich in carbohydrates, low in protein, poor in fat, and high in fiber. Palatable to cattle, goats, and sheep. Not a feed for monogastrics.

6. Bermunda Grass
Important pasture grass for cattle, sheep, and goats. Common in tropical areas, can be used for hay.

7. Blood meal
Boil for 30 minutes or until it coagulates–then sun dry for 2 to 3 days. High in excellent quality protein. Unpalatable to poultry. Limit to 5% of ration.

8. Bone meal
Phosphorus supplement. Difficult to prepare–must be cooked under steam pressure or for longer periods in open kettles and then sun dried. Use only 1 or 2% in rations.

9. Brewers Dried Grain
Sun dry 2 to 3 days. Use for swine and poultry. Fill problems. If of good quality can be used for chicks and pigs as exclusive protein source.

10. Buckwheat
Problems with palatability. Should form only one third of the grains in the ration. Ground for all livestock except poultry. Produces soft pork meat.

11. Casein
Solid residue remains after the acid or rennet coagulation of defatted milk. Excellent protein quality. Generally too expensive to use as livestock feed.

12. Cassava meal (maniac, yuca, & tapioca)
Extremely deficient in methionine. Can be fed (cooked or raw) to pigs, cattle, sheep, and goats. Must be mixed with water or molasses for poultry. Leaves are richer in protein and minerals than root. Boil roots for 30 minutes and sun dry for 2 to 3 days. Storage is difficult.

13. Chick peas
Pulse seed common to subtropics. Can be fed raw to swine- for chickens boil 30 minutes and then sun dry. Good source of lysine but low in methionine and cystine. Use up to 50% as protein source. Harvesting and supply problems.

14. Clover hay
Good for cattle, sheep, goats, and rabbits. Can be fed green–watch for bloat.

15. Copra Meal
For chickens and pigs. Boil for 30 minutes. Use only 20% in ration. Low in lysine and methionine.

16. Corn, yellow dent
Excellent energy source for all animals. Should be shelled and cracked before being fed. Poor protein quality. Should be ground for chicken.

17. Corn and cob meal
Used for cattle, less common for goats & sheep. Not preferred for swine, rabbits, or poultry. Cob usually forms 20% of the meal.

18. Corn gluten feed & meal
High in fiber and best for cattle. Very limited for chickens and pigs.

19. Cottonseed meal
Low in lysine, excellent protein sources for ruminants. Limit to 50% of protein source for pigs. Must be industrially processed. Contains gossypol which limits its use for pigs and chickens. Limit to 10% of ration for swine and 5% for chickens.

20. Crab
1.6 pounds of crab meal can replace 1 pound of fish meal.
Must remove salt and sun dry. Can be sole protein source.

21. Distillers grain
Bulky, fill problem. Limit to 10% of ration for poultry.
Sun dry 2 to 3 days. Limit to 50% of protein requirement for all animals. Poor quality protein due to amino acid imbalance.

22. Feather meal
Must be industrially processed. Can be used as sole protein source. Limit to 5% of ration for poultry.

23. Field peas
Palatable for all livestock. Feed to swine and rabbits raw.
For chickens boil 30 minutes and sun dry for 2 to 3 days.
Can be used as sole protein source. Do not feed pods to pigs and chickens. Harvest and supply problems.

24. Fish meal solubles
Sole mineral source and major protein source for all animals. Boil 30 minutes and sun dry for 2 to 3 days for pigs and poultry. Limit to 10% of ration for pigs, rabbits, and chickens. Can flavor meat.

25. Flax
Used to make linseed oil. Produces soft pork meat and can have a laxative effect. Used mainly for cattle and never for chickens.

26. Hominy
A milling by-product of corn. Fed to all livestock.

27. Kudzu
The curse of Georgia. Equal to alfalfa in nutritive value and palatibility for ruminants. Storage and collection is difficult.

28. Leucaena (Ipil-Ipil)
5% limit in ration for chickens and pigs due to toxicity.
30% for cattle and 20% for goats. Possible harvest and sup ply problems.

29. Meat and bone meal
Excellent amino acid balance, used as protein supplements for swine and poultry. Boil for 30 minutes and sun dry.

30. Milk, dehydrated
Generally too expensive to feed livestock.

31. Millet
Should always be ground or rolled except for poultry. Not equal to corn for ME.

32. Molasses, beet and cane
Limit to 10% in growing chickens and pigs, 20% to adult chickens & pigs. Fill problem little usage. Used commonly for cattle, can cause scours in pigs.

33. Oats
Palatable to all livestock. Bulky, can reduce cannibalism in poultry. Popular dairy feed. Fill problem with swine due to bulk and fiber content. For swine it equals 80% of the value of corn pound for pound. Limit to 10 to 15% of poultry ration. Palatable to rabbits.

34. Peanuts
Can feed entire plant during early bloom to rabbits-good for forage. Use only the nut for pigs and chickens. Must be dry –humidity forms toxic molds. Medium quality protein. Use for up to 50% of protein requirements.

35. Peanut meal
Becomes rancid quickly in warm, humid climates. Excellent protein supplement for all animals highly palatable to swine.

36. Peas
Highly palatable to all livestock. Can be substituted for grains. Can be fed raw to swine, cattle, and rabbits. For chickens boil 30 minutes and sun dry for 48 hours. Can be used as a sole protein source. Do not feed pod to chickens and pigs. Harvest and storage problems.

37. Pineapple bran
Feed only to cattle.

38. Plantains See bananas.

39. Potatoes
Boil 30 minutes and sun dry for 2 days for swine and poultry.
Good energy source. Chicks and piglets must have them peeled. Fill problem. Basis for survival diets. 4 to 1 ratio in energy values with grains. Feed raw to cattle.

40. Rapeseed meal
Must be industrially processed for pigs and chickens. May cause abortions in breeding sows. High quality plant protein –use for only 25% of protein requirements for pigs and chickens. Rather unpalatable. Toxic if not processed correctly. Avoid for poultry starter rations, limit to 10% of rations in fryers.

41. Rice (bran, broken, & polishings)
Bran should be hull-free. Energy basis of a survival diet, low in amino acids. Use up to 75% of ration for laying hens. Rice bran is fed mainly to ruminants. Rice polishings fed primarily to swine. Can cause serious scours in young pigs and produce soft pork meat. Should be cracked or ground before feeding.

42. Rye grain
Lower palatability than other grains, high in protein, liked by sheep. Should be ground for all animals except sheep. Ergot contamination can cause it to be toxic. High quantities work as a laxative. Grind for chickens and limit to 20% of the ration.

43. Safflower meal
Not very palatable–primarily for ruminants. Must be industrially processed for pigs and chickens and limited to 10% of ration due to high fiber content.

44. Sesame meal
Difficult to harvest. Soak seeds in water to remove hulls.
High in CA and PH. Palatable to all livestock and stores well. Mild laxative, produces soft pork. Use only to 50% of protein requirements.

45. Shrimp
Must remove salt–sun dry. Can be used as a sole source for monogastrics.

46. Sorghum
Sun dry the fodder, excellent energy source for all animals. Limited in amino acids and palatibility may be a problem. Feed fodder only to cattle. Should be ground except for sheep. Palatable to rabbits. Feed value equal to corn. Green grain sorghum plants are poisonous due to the presence of prussic acid. Some varieties grown for silage. Dry well to eliminate prussic acid.

47. Soybeans and soybean meal
Boil for 30 minutes and sun dry for 2 to 3 days for chickens and pigs. Can be fed raw to ruminants. Should be ground before feeding. SBM is a better feeedstuff than whole soybeans for monogastrics. Excellent protein supplement for all animals. High in lysine and can produce soft pork.

48. Sugar
Excellent energy source for all animals except piglets and chicks. Not normally an animal feed due to expense.

49. Sunflower seeds
Require industrial proceeding for pigs and chickens and should be limited to 25% of protein requirement for monogastrics. High in fiber and low in amino acids. Remove hull by soaking. Can be used for silage in cool climates. Hulls are used in ruminant feeds and the meal in nonruminant feeds. Good to combine with a high lysine supplement like fish meal.

50. Taro
Boil 30 minutes and sun dry. Unknown inhibitors for chickens and pigs. Cooked tubers good for all livestock. Leaves are relished by cattle and sheep.

51. Wheat bran
Formed by the coarse outer coatings of the wheat kernel.
Very bulky. A popular stock feed in the U.S. Can work as a laxative. Palatable to all livestock.

52. Wheat grain
Important grain crop. Should be cracked and coarsely ground for all animals. Wheat powder is not very palatable. Limit to 50% of concentrate mix. Expense limits its use as an animal feed. Poor protein quality and low in calcium. Can be used as “finisher” for cattle and sheep. Preferred by poultry to all other grains.

53. Whey
A by-product of the making of cheese. Very low in protein. Fed primarily to swine. One pound of whey (dried) is equal to 13 to 14 pounds of liquid whey in nutrients. High in riboflavin.

54. Wingbeans
The root tuber is high in energy. Boil 30 minutes and sun dry for 2 to 3 days. The pod with seeds may be fed whole to pigs, chickens, goats, rabbits, and cattle. Can be used for at least 50% of protein requirements in all animals.

55. Yeast, brewers
Excellent source of highly digestable good quality protein. It can replace up to 80% of the animal protein portion of swine and poultry rations when supplemented with calcium. Contains B vitamins and unidentified growth factors.

Conversion Factors:

DE to ME: (for swine) DE x.96 = ME

DE- Digestable Energy

TDN to ME: 45% TDN x 36 = 1,620 ME

ME- Metabolizable Energy

TDN to DE: 45% TDN x 4400/100 3 2000 DE

TDN- Total Digestive Nutrients

ME to TDN: 3,000 ME: 36 5 83.3 TDN


% of Calcium

% of Phosphorus


Bone charcoal




Bone meal




Calcite, high grade


Calcium carbonate


Dicalcium phosphate




Dolomite Limestone






Monocalcium Phosphate




Oyster Shell


Tricalcium Phosphate




Wood Ash


A good calcium, phosphorus ratio is at least 1.5 parts calcium to 1.0 parts phosphorus. The ratio can be as high as 3:1 or 4:1.
RNB 1982

Source: website. Guidelines and References: Livestock Training Component (Peace Corps, 1985, 302 p.)