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With the increasing rate of animal protein consumption all over the world, the demand for animal feed and in particular, the feed with high protein and energy is burgeoning than ever. Over the last few decades the feeding habit of cattle, poultry and other domestic animals have been dramatically changed for various reasons. Animal feed no longer depends on fodder and forage only; rather high-protein diets and feed supplements have substituted the natural source of animal food for obtaining greater quantity of dairy, meat and poultry products.
The type of animal feed used in a firm-house mainly depends on the availability and local supply of feeds. Considerable efforts are being made for collecting more diverse feed ingredients, especially protein materials. The importance of feed proteins is highly emphasised for it provides optimum energy supply and balanced diet to the livestock. It has been also noted that the requirement of protein varies from animal to animal, depending on their age, weight and species. There are three types of amino acid requirements in protein diets, namely 'essential', 'semi-essential' and 'conditionally indispensible'. The protein has significant influence on the immune system of animals as antigenic factors and different types of amino acids play key role in enhancing animal growth. However, the feed protein supply should be lesser to the ageing or stressed animals.
Feed protein sources can be broadly classified into two main categories: plant and animal proteins. Plant source includes alfalfa seed, barley, brewer’s yeast, corn, flaxseed, millet, oats, rice, rye, sesame seeds, peas and beans, soybeans, sunflower seeds, wheat, wheat germ etc. Animal source of proteins include dried liver, dried earthworm, lean beef, earthworms, fish, dried fish flakes etc. Generally the protein content is higher in animal sources compared to plant sources and the percentage of proteins present in each type of food is displayed against the source name.
Calculating feed protein is important to determine the amount of protein that should be regularly supplied along with other animal feed to achieve the best growth of the livestock. To calculate, one has to select the name of the grain and the percentage of protein present in that particular grain from the list, and has to enter them in correspondent box of the feed protein calculator. Then the target protein should be selected and a common number has to be entered for it. The next step is to select the protein concentrate of another grain from the same list or other, and the values have to be entered in respective boxes. Finally the ‘calculate’ button has to be pressed to find the percentage ratio of proteins and grains supplied to the animal on daily basis.
Protein supplements can be used to maintain the feed protein content for healthy growth and sustenance of animals. Protein blocks, liquid supplements, range cubes and commodity co-product feedstuffs are some of the examples of the different types of protein supplements. High quality forages can also be considered for supplying plant proteins to the animal stock.
The animal feed industry must continue to look for alternatives and better sources of proteins for animal feeds. There are many possibilities to enhance the feed protein values through biotechnical researches and proper co-ordination between researcher, feed-industry and farmers.