Feed specifications, alternative ingredients, sustainability


Commercial feed formulation is typically based on linear programming (LP) algorithms that derive a least-cost solution for a blend of ingredients that meet specific nutrient criteria. This methodology has been effectively used for decades, but how we achieve our primary goal, which is sustainable poultry production, needs to be reconsidered in broader terms. Some of the issues that this paper will deal with are: not all parameters that we consider are linear and additive; we are still unsure of how to build the matrix required for feed formulation; dealing with the variability encountered in every batch of ingredient remains a challenge; the business model used for any poultry production system has a direct bearing on the formulation philosophy; the feed specification used for any formulation should be reconsidered as poultry genotypes evolve, or when commercial circumstances change; alternative ingredients and their impact on a system need to be evaluated, and last, as an industry, we will be obliged to formulate diets bearing sustainability in mind. This paper will outline how the formation system is central to successful broiler nutrition and offer suggestions on how to best deal with some of the shortcomings of LP.