In terms of cost, feed is the most important input for poultry production, and the availability of low-priced, high-quality feeds is critical for the expansion of the poultry industry. For maximum performance and good health, poultry need a steady supply of energy, protein, essential amino acids, minerals, and vitamins and, most important, water. Recent advances in poultry nutrition have focused on three main areas:
Practical poultry diets are formulated from a mixture of ingredients, including cereal grains, cereal by-products, fats, plant protein sources, animal by-products, vitamin and mineral supplements, crystalline amino acids and feed additives. In developing countries, the increasing cost and decreasing supply of traditional feedstuffs are expected to constrain the future expansion of poultry production. This situation highlights the urgent need to improve utilization of the wide range of alternative feedstuffs available in these countries. In many circumstances, feed resources are either unused and wasted, or used inefficiently. The use of most alternative feedstuffs is currently negligible, owing to constraints imposed by nutritional, technical and socio-economic factors. However, unlike intensive commercial poultry production systems, family poultry units and semi-commercial systems are well-suited to the inclusion of these feedstuffs.
A major nutritional problem in developing countries is the biological and chemical contamination of poultry feeds, which may have serious consequences on bird performance and the safety of poultry products for humans. Of the potential contaminants, mycotoxins are the most widespread, particularly in hot, humid conditions, and mycotoxin decontamination must be a part of feeding strategies.
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