Poultry production in India during the last decades has taken a shape of the industry. However, in recent years poultry, production has crippled many times due to rising feed cost and diseases. Feed accounts for more than two-thirds of production cost. Traditionally maize is used as an energy source in poultry feeds. The total requirement of maize would be around 112 million tonnes in 2025 with the allocation of 28 million tonnes for poultry (45% of poultry diet; Mandal, 2009). Thus, a major challenge is the shortage of feedstuffs. It is, therefore, essential to identify alternate energy feedstuffs for economic poultry production. Bajra or Wheat can be an alternative to maize, however, the utilization efficiency of wheat is lower than that of corn because it contains more anti-nutritive factors, especially non-starch polysaccharides (NSP). Cereal grains are used mainly to satisfy the energy requirement of poultry.
The dominant feed grain is corn, although different grains are used in various countries and regions of the world. For instance, in the US, Brazil and most Asian countries corn is by far the most important energy source for all poultry feed, whereas wheat is the predominant supplier of dietary energy for poultry diets in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Russian Federation. Of course, in reality, a feed manufacturer will use any grain in a poultry diet if it is available at a reasonable price. For instance, in some parts of the US and China wheat is often used in place of corn if its price is below that of corn. In Australia, sorghum is a key grain during the summer season instead of wheat, while in the Scandinavian countries barley and rye are used when these grains are at the right price. Although the amounts and types of cereal grains included in poultry diets will depend largely on their current costs relative to their nutritive values, care must be taken to avoid making large changes to the cereal component of diets as sudden changes can cause digestive upsets that may reduce productivity and predispose the birds to disease.
WHY THERE IS NEED OF REPLACEMENT OF MAIZE WITH OTHER ENERGY SOURCE
The growing world food crisis has presented a challenge to poultry nutritionists, especially in India, to investigate the possibilities of utilizing other potential energy feed sources as a replacement for maize grain. The major portion of the crop is now diverted for purposes such as biofuel, brewery and starch industries, apart from its growing spate in human consumption. Maize,of course, is the major feed ingredient in broiler diet with the inclusion level of around 60% in the total diet. In India, because of only a marginal increase in maize production coupled with poor production per hectare, has widened the supply and demand gap which has put
COMMON ENERGY SOURCES
The cereals and cereal by-products are mainly energy sources and can constitute about 50-60% of the poultry diet. Some of the conventional cereals and cereal by-products are described below:
Maize is also known as corn and is the most common cereal used in poultry diet due to its low fiber content (about 2%), high-fat content (3-6%) and having high palatability (acceptability to taste). Yellow maize is preferred over its white variety as the yellow maize is rich in pigments (carotene-precursor of vitamin A and xanthophylls) responsible for the deep yellow coloration of egg yolk and broiler skin. It contains 9-10% crude protein (CP) and 3300-3450 kcal ME/kg of energy. It can be fed up to 60% in poultry diet. While purchasing maize, you should take care of its moisture content, which should not be more than 11 to 12 %. In immature maize, chances of aflatoxin or fungal growth will be more.
Only broken rice (rice
Most important by-products obtained during milling of paddy for rice are rice bran and rice polish. Practically, it is difficult to distinguish between bran and polish. The good quality rice bran contains 11-12% protein and 1800-2000 kcal/kg energy, while deoiled rice bran contains 12-16% protein and 1600-1800 kcal/kg energy. Good quality of rice polish contains 12-14% protein and 2600-2800 kcal/ kg energy.
One of the common cereals is wheat and it contains 11-14% protein with 2900-3100 kcal/kg ME. The wheat is more digestible and a better source of amino acids, minerals, and vitamin B group. Due to its maximum use as human food, good quality wheat is not available for poultry feeding. However, if you get the desired amount of wheat you can safely replace 50% of maize by wheat.
It is the outer covering of wheat kernel and contains 14-15% protein and 1000-1400 kcal/kg energy. It is an excellent source of amino acids, minerals, and vitamins.
FATS AND OIL
Fats and oils are a rich source of energy (7000-9000 kcal/kg). The oils are digested more readily than saturated fats like tallow. These provide energy, improve palatability, reduce dustiness etc. It can be used up to 5 % in broiler diets. Coconut oil, groundnut oil, linseed oil, and soybean oil are commonly used in poultry rations.
UNCONVENTIONAL ENERGY SOURCES
In order to avoid dependency on some conventional ingredients because of nonavailability, high cost etc., the nutritionists were always compelled to search for locally available alternate feedstuffs. Though, it is difficult to differentiate between conventional and unconventional feedstuffs, as some may be used in a particular area of the country due to its availability in large quantity, but may not be used widely in other areas and termed as unconventional or alternate ingredients. Some of the unconventional energy feedstuffs are described below:
Bajra is also called Pearl Millet and contains 12-14 % protein and 2800-
2900 kcal/kg energy with its inclusion level @ 30% replacing 50% maize in the diet of broilers or layers.
The barley is less palatable due to more crude fiber (6-7%). It provides less energy (2700-2900 kcal ME/kg) when compared to maize. The protein content in barley is 9-10%. An anti-nutritional factor known as a-D-glucans present in barley results in sticky droppings in broilers and layers. Soaking in water and enzyme (a glucanase) supplementation can enhance its nutritive value. Chicks are sensitive to barley; however, it can be used at the rate of 20% in layer diet.
A meal obtained from the roots of the cassava plant is rich in energy content (2700-2900 kcal ME/kg), crude fiber (9-10%) but poor in crude protein (2-4%). Presence of cyanogenic glucosides in this meal restricts its use.
Jowar or Sorghum is comparable with maize in terms of protein (9-11%) and energy (2800-3000 kcal/kg) and it can replace maize up to 70%, but its tannin content (above 0.5% level) may limit its safe inclusion. White variety (low tannin) is preferred over dark or brown colored (high tannin) variety
A liquid obtained from sugar milling industry is the cheapest source of energy (1800-2200 kcal ME/kg) and is rich in minerals. It can be used to replace cereal grains up to 5% of the ration. Cane molasses is usually higher in sugar content than that from beet. It is a binding agent and you can use 2-3% in the manufacturing of pelleted feed.
The seed meal is a forest-origin feedstuff and contains 9-10% protein and 2300-2800 kcal ME/kg energy. Because of its high tannin content (12-13%), you cannot use it in poultry rations in higher quantity. However, a very low level of
Table 1. ME value and key nutrient composition of cereal grains
| Ingredient Protein|
(%) Available P
(%) Lysine (%)
Wheat 13.0 3153 0.05 0.20 0.5
Corn 8.5 3300 0.05 0.20 0.3
Sorghum 9.0 3263 0.02 0.15 0.3
Barley 11.5 2795 0.10 0.20 0.4
Rye 12.5 2734 0.05 0.18 0.5
Triticale 15.4 3110 0.05 0.19 0.4
Oats 12.0 2756 0.10 0.20 0.4
The quality of cereal grains will also depend on seasonal and storage conditions. Poor growing or storage conditions can lead to grains with a lower than expected energy content or contamination with mycotoxins or toxin-producing organisms such as fungi and ergots. Genetic and environmental factors also affect not only the content of nutrients in grains but also the nutritive value, which takes into account the digestibility of nutrients contained in an ingredient in the target animal.
In addition to the cereals themselves, their by-products, such as wheat bran, rice bran, and DDGS, are used widely in poultry feed. Cereal by-products are typically high in fiber, or non-starch polysaccharides (NSP), which are poorly utilized in poultry and are low in ME.
One of the energy sources available for replacing maize in poultry ration is Bajra (Pearl millet). Pearl millet one of the most drought-tolerant of all domesticated cereals, is grown widely in tropical regions of Africa and Asia. India is the largest pearl millet producer in the world. It can be grown under seasonal rainfall as low as 200-250 mm, making it only reliable productive cereal in driest
Bajra crop is well adapted to production systems characterized by low rainfall, low soil fertility, and high temperature, thus can be grown in areas where other cereal crops like wheat or maize would not survive. Bajra protein offers the added advantage of having more lysine, methionine and tryptophan content than other food grains. Comparatively, it has also the lower fat producing ability within the animal system. The grain also supplies more thiamin and iron.
The productivity of the crops like Bajra is much lower due to various reasons such as non-availability of quality inputs to the farmers, lack of access to improved varieties of seed and other technologies, unavailability of credit on time, poor storage facilities and poor market linkage etc. There is no doubt, a large potential for using pearl millet as alternate to maize in poultry feed. It is important to propagate the good nutritive as well as other attributes of pearl millet among poultry producers and feed manufacturers to promote this as an alternate to maize.
It has been reported that the Pearl millet based diet provides best (p<0.05) feed conversion ratio (FCR) and the lowest (p<0.05) feed cost per unit of body weight gain. Complete replacement of maize with pearl millet in broiler diet did not impair feed intake, body weight gain and feed conversion ratio and nutrient retention.
INCLUSION IN POULTRY DIETS
Pearl millet has been shown to be a suitable feed ingredient for poultry diets, and whole seeds can be fed to poultry. Its seed is higher in methionine than maize, alleviating some of the need for synthetic methionine supplementation in organic poultry diets. Feeding ground pearl millet to laying hens results in eggs higher in omega-3-fatty acids and lower in omega-6-fatty acid than eggs from hens receiving corn based diets.
Although pearl millet can be grown in areas not favorable to corn, and the grain can be used in poultry diets, but the production of pearl millet has been limited due to its susceptibility to rust disease. A rust-resistant hybrid of pearl millet has been developed so as to alleviate this concern. Thus, the grain in poultry feeds is a good alternative to maize for broilers and layers. When pearl millet replaced maize part per par isocalorically and isoproteinically, the performance of chicks was either comparable or even better than those on of maize-based diet. Pearl millet was included at 60% part per part or isocalorically and isoproteinically at the expense of maize, the performance of layers was comparable. The protein content of pearl millet, although the variable, but the higher and essential amino acid profile is more balanced than corn. It has higher oil content than other common cereal grains and is a better source of linolenic acid. Based on the performance of broilers and laying hens fed pearl millet, it appears that pearl millet is equivalent or sometimes even superior to corn as a grain source for poultry rations. Moreover, the crop matures quickly, which it makes potentially an ideal component of traditional double cropping and rotational cropping system.
Bajra is also used as fodder for livestock. The crop is cultivated in India approximate on 900000 hectares yielding 20-35 tonne of green fodder per hectare. It is generally grown for taking the grains not as fodder. After removing grains, its stalks are seldom used for feeding the animals as fodder crop in the country. Whenever it is grown as a fodder crop, it is harvested before flowering stage for feeding the animals. It is a quick growing, disease resistant, high tillering fodder crop, suitable for sowing in arid and semi-arid regions which can be sown early in spring under irrigated conditions and in kharif under rainfed condition. However, it is not suitable under high rainfall areas. It does well even on light soils. It is sown alone or mixture with guar or cow pea. The crop is cultivated in a similar manner as jowar and maize; and contains 22% dry matter, 13% TDN and 0.9% DCP. Hybrid-Bajra-1 has been developed by GADVASU scientist in Ludhiana, which is disease resistant and can be grown in all types of soil and climate condition.
HARVESTING AND YIELD
The first cutting should be done after 50-80 days, after sowing and subsequent cutting after 35-40 days. For good regrowth, the cutting height should be 15 cm from the ground. The yield depends upon the varieties, but the average green yield may be 400-600 q/hectare.