Agri Business

Dearer soyameal forces poultry farmers to search for feed substitutes

| Updated on: Aug 31, 2012

To combat soaring prices of soyameal, a key feed ingredient, poultry farmers have started to look towards alternative commodities. They have started using guarmeal, cottonseed de-oiled cake, rapemeal, sesamum cake and groundnut meal as substitutes for fish oil and soyameal.

“We are using it on a trial basis. Farmers and feed manufacturers are seeking these commodities as an alternative to soyameal to bring down the production cost of feed, especially since the return for the poultry sector is low,” said M. Murali, head of Krishna Poultry Farms in Namakkal that houses around 5 lakh layer birds. Feed costs account for one-third of the production cost of production.

Guarmeal

Guarmeal is being used as a binding agent in feed formulation for its free-flowing, coarse-texture, non-transgenic properties. More importantly, guarmeal is free from salmonella, E. coli and aflatoxin, industry sources said.

“Guarmeal is comparable to soyameal in terms of nutritional content. When mixed with feed formulation, guarmeal can be given at 5-7 per cent of total feed production for layers. In broilers, the recommended inclusion rate is 5-7 per cent for starter feeds and 5-12 per cent for grower feeds,” Murali said.

P. Selvaraj, Chairman, National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC), Namakkal zone, told Business Line that with this new formulation, farms are now able to save up to Rs 1,000 a tonne and partially offset their losses.

No exports

Currently, the poultry industry is haunted by rising production costs and seasonal uncertainties coupled with almost no exports that hit a decade low in July 2012 with just 1.36 crore eggs.

Data available with the Soyabean Processors Association of India show that the price of soyameal (f.o.b.) was $404 a tonne in August last year against $735 now. This has increased the cost of production of egg from Rs 2.20 in July last year to Rs 3 currently.

The bulk of these new feed ingredients are currently being used by the layer sector while the usage by broiler producers is yet to pick up. However, farm owners admit that there are teething problems as there is a marginal drop in egg output due to the change in the chickens’ intake but are confident of overcoming these crises.

> gayathri.gururajan@thehindu.co.in

Published on August 31, 2012

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