Producers advised to take back some control of poultry feed costs

With feed prices rising between 50% and 80% above the industry average last year, now is the time for layer producers to consider ways to make their feed go further by looking at energy utilisation.

This advice comes as every £5/t that feed increases, an extra penny per egg is added to the cost of production.

“Price volatility has a significant impact on the profitability of a flock, and with concerns that egg prices may fall once hospitality industries open again, it’s more important than ever to maximise energy utilisation of the diet,” explained Mark McFarland, feed additive product manager at Lallemand Animal Nutrition.

Energy is a significant driver of feed costs, however, any attempts by producers to reduce energy content in diets can result in lower egg production and quality, which impacts saleable value.

“It can therefore be difficult to identify ways in which costs can be reduced without negatively impacting profits.”

One approach which can be used to help laying hens extract more energy from feed is to use dietary supplementation.

Recent trials

Recent trials have demonstrated that adding a probiotic bacteria such as Pediococcus Acidilactici CNCM I-4622, known commercially as Bactocell, to poultry feed, positively affects feed efficiency and dietary energy utilisation.

“New findings about the effect of this unique probiotic have demonstrated its ability to improve feed efficiency by optimising nutrient digestion and absorption within the poultry gut,” he said.

“In the research, layers were fed four different diets: standard energy, reduced energy, standard energy with the addition of Bactocell, and reduced energy with the addition of Bactocell.

The results indicated that adding this probiotic to the diet can allow for up to a 100 kcal/kg [0.4MJ/kg] reduction in feed energy, but with laying rate and eggshell thickness being maintained.

“As well as this positive finding, regardless of dietary energy, birds which were fed the probiotic supplemented diet demonstrated better productive performance than those without,” he adds.

“This research identifies a way in which producers can take back some control of feed costs, the biggest cost of egg production.

“Although we can’t change the price of feed ingredients, there are things we can do to make sure birds utilise more of the available dietary energy in feed, helping to improve production efficiency and margins,” he concluded.