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Alternative protein sources to be used in poultry diets

Alternative raw materials can be included to poultry nutrition by studying these alternative protein sources, particularly anti-nutritional factors. If the anti-nutritional factors are eliminated, both the ration costs will decrease and the ration quality will improve significantly.

Ertuğrul Yılmaz
Korkutelim Yem
Feed Safety and Management System Manager

Poultry sector has experienced difficult times during the last two years because of the GDO crisis and increasing price of protein sources. Apart from a few practices to lower the costs of ration, a solution could not be found. They tried to reduce the costs of ration by using sunflower seed meal, DDGS, safflower meal, and corn gluten meal in the rations and by arranging the amino acid profiles of these rations with feed additives (essential amino acids). However these practices will lose their efficiency and the sector will start going towards new alternative protein sources and regional by-products.

It is important to have sustainable sources of energy and protein resources that are required to prepare the poultry compound feeds. Turkey, which is sufficient in terms of high energy sources such as corn and wheat, is forced to import especially in terms of quality protein source (1). Energy and protein sources constitute a significant part of the cost in poultry feeds. This is because 50-65% of the feed is based on energy while 25-40% is based on protein sources in chicken feed. The way in reducing feed cost is to provide economic resources or to find and use alternative resources (2). As an alternative to maize, soybean meal, and fish meal, this article examines green peas, seaweeds, insects, bitter vetch, guar, moringa oleifera, and lupens.

In closing the protein gap, the use of by-products (hazelnut kernel meal, sunflower meal, cottonseed oil meal, safflower meal, and corn gluten flour) in producing oil in line with the country’s oil texture become prominent. Feed technologies that promote the use of alfalfa (alfalfa flour) and dairy industry by-products (whey or powder) as poultry feed should be studied (3).

When green peas are compared with soybean meal, they have low protein (NRC, 2001) and high starch content (4). While the crude protein of soybean meal is around 45-55 %, green peas have 25.1%. The levels of ADF (9.1%) and NDF (18.5%) in green peas are higher than soybean meal (6.1% and 10.0%). The metabolic energy content of these two feed ingredients is the same (3.42 Mcal / kg). Calcium and phosphorus levels are 0.12% and 0.46% in green peas, while they are 0.38% and 0.78% (5) in soybean meal. In a study examining the effect of green peas on laying hens (6), adding green peas instead of soybean meal to compound feed do not affect daily egg efficiency and egg’s weight; but that new mixture increased the daily feed consumption. Also, this new mixture does not affect the egg quality. However, among the legume grains, the green pea was found to have the highest levels of threonine, arginine, and phenylalanine amino acids. Because it has rich amino acids and starch in its structure, it can be used as a source of energy and protein by eliminating antibacterial factors.

The amount of protein in algae varies from species to species. For example, in Spirulina, microalgae, this rate is found to be 70% in dry matter, 30-40% in red algae, 20% in green algae, and 10-11% in brown algae. Algae have low-fat content. It changes between 1 and 5 percent. However, the essential fatty acids it contains are much higher than other land plants. Algae are also a source of minerals and vitamins. The amount of alpha and beta carotene in brown and red algae is 2-7mg / 100g KM. The amount of vitamin C in these two algae species varies between 50-300 mg / 100g KM (7). In studies conducted by Bratova and Ganovski on laying hens, they use Black Sea algae in 1,2, and 4 percent (Cystozeria barbata, Ulva lactuca, and Zostera Nona mixture). When compared to the control group, the laying rate increased by 22.7 percent in the group with 2 percent laying rate, and Ca and Mg rate in eggshell and Vitamin A, E, and beta carotene in egg yolk were found at a greater percentage (8). Experiments with algae were successful in increasing EPA and DHA levels while it is believed that it is beneficial to concentrate the studies on the performance of the animals and the oxidation parameters in the products obtained.

Insects are high-quality protein sources for humans and animals (9). The nutrient composition of insects depends on the growth environment, growing conditions, as well as the life stages (10). For example, when the methionine content of housefly larvae was grown in poultry stools, it was found to be higher than that grown in various vegetable residues (11). Feed insect larvae prefer protein-based rations over starch-based rations and may evaluate yeast. Feed conversion ratio is 6.05 when fed with ration which has a 11.9 percent crude protein content. This rate can be as low as 3.04 when 32.7 percent crude protein ration is used. While no significant change was observed in the protein concentration of feed insect meal, the fat content of feed insects fed with low protein ration was significantly lower than those fed with high protein diet (18.9% and 26.3%).

Insects grow very fast and their feed conversion ratio is very highly. An area of 1 m2 with approximately 2 kg of organic residue is required to produce one kg of insect protein (12). Insects have rich sources of protein and essential amino acids (10,12). The protein content of insect meal varies between 40-60% depending on the stage of development of insects even in the same insect species. When the amino acid profile of insects is compared with fish meal, methionine and cysteine contents of all insects except housefly larvae are approximately half of that of fish meal.

Wang et al. (13) has found out that grasshopper meal (it contains 58.3% crude protein, 10.3% raw oil, 8.7% chitin, 2.96 % crude ash, and 2.960 kcal/kg metabolizable energy) being used at 15 percent as replacement of fish meal in broiler feeds does not affect live weight, feed consumption, and feed conversion and can be used to close the protein gap. In a study conducted on laying hens (14), when warble fly (Hermetia illucens) is substituted in the place of soybean meal, it lowers the digestion at small bowel and changes the enzymatic activity while it increased the butyric acid production at cecum. Especially, this drew attention when insects are used as an alternative to antibiotics in poultry ration. In a study conducted by Islam and Yang (15), it is found out that when mealworm (Tenebrio Molitor) and super mealworm (Zophobas Morio) were added to the diets at levels of 0.4% of probiotic larvae, this increased the live weight, IgA, and IgG of broiler chicks infected with Salmonella and E.coli, feed utilization rate, the number of E.coli and Salmonella number at cecum, and lowered pH value of cecum, and that can be used as an alternative to antibiotics.

The bitter vetch is a good source of protein. Protein content varies between 21% and 28.5%. Compared to other grains, the average protein content is 24.02%. Legume grains are important protein sources for poultry and contain 20-40% crude protein. However, the addition of some legumes to the rations without any treatment resulted in a decrease in egg production and live weight gain, inhibition of amino acid absorption, and growth in the pancreas. These detrimental effects are attributed to the presence of various toxic substances such as trypsin, chymotrypsin, and amylase inhibitors, tannins or glycosides. The use of autoclaved bitter vetch reduces the toxicity in laying hens. The researchers also reported that animals that were fed with bitter vetch at 30 percent showed irregular feather formation. Irregular feather formation is thought to be caused by the antibacterial effect of the horoscope on sulfur amino acids such as methionine (16).

Guar is an excellent source of essential amino acids. While lysine level is quite high, it is rich with tryptophan, isoleucine, valine, and phenylalanine. According to its chemical content, it contains 4% fat, 45% crude protein, and 4.5% ash. It is rich in lysine and sulfurous amino acids (17). Several studies have documented that anti-nutritional factors (saponin, B-mannan, and trypsin inhibitor) are present in guar (18). It can be used as an alternative to soybean meal in poultry diets with high crude protein and amino acid profile. With the elimination of antibacterial factors, it can contribute great benefit to the poultry sector in terms of both being used in poultry rations and reducing ration costs.

Moringa oleifera is a plant that is named differently in various languages and is the most grown and known species of Moringa genus. It is also named as “Miracle Tree” (19). The reason is that every part of the plant is utilized from seed to root and stem, and almost every part has a separate value. Moringa oleifera is also used in a wide variety of fields such as medicine, human food, animal feed, fat, cellulose source, low-cost water treatment. Moringa plant is a good source of protein. Protein content varies between 7.1 and 39.17 percent according to parts of the plant (20, 21, 22).

When Onu and Aniebo (19) reviewed the effect of adding moringa leaf meal to feed to be provided to broiler chicks in the initial period on the performance and blood parameters, they found out that if it is used at 7.5 percent that does not affect badly the said parameter and can be used successfully. Moreki and Gabanakgosi (2014) stated that the addition of moringa leaf meal at the level of 5-20 percent to the feed of broiler chickens and 10% to the feed of laying hens increased the egg yield with performance criteria.

Soybean meal is the main source of protein in diets for pigs and poultry because of its high crude protein content and good amino acid profile. However, since soybean meal has to be imported, home-grown protein sources such as lupines have been considered as alternatives. Lupines may contain up to 44% crude protein, and previous studies have shown that diets can be added to pigs and poultry diets that do not have a negative impact on performance, provided that diets are supplemented with expensive synthetic amino acids (23).

As a result, these raw materials can be added to poultry nutrition by studying these alternative protein sources, especially anti-nutritional factors. If the antibacterial factors are eliminated, both the ration costs will decrease and the ration quality will improve significantly.

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