India’s poultry farmers are turning to guarmeal and other feed substitutes in face of soymeal’s soaring cost.
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 500,000 layer birds. Feed costs account for one-third of the production cost of production.
Guarmeal feed binding agent
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.
Data available with the Soyabean Processors Association of India show that the price of soyameal was US$404 a tonne in August last year against US$735 now.
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 still teething problems as there is a marginal drop in egg output due to the change in the chickens’ intake but are confident of overcoming this crisis.