FeedCares Scanner solution from AgroCares, is providing a selected range of parameters for optimal analysis of feed and forage materials. The main feed component and their importance for the animal digestive process are listed and explained below.
1. Main components of feed
2. Roles and implications
Moisture Moisture is the amount of free water present in feed material and the content is important as it affects the dry matter level, flavor, digestibility of the feed and feed selection behavior in animals. Although it differs for each feed raw material, the moisture content is usually around 10-12% in dry feeds such as soy, while this rate can be up to 70-75% in much wetter raw materials such as silage. The level of moisture in different areas of livestock management can vary greatly depending on the animal species.
- Dry Matter
Dry matter represents everything contained in a feed sample except water; this includes protein, fiber, fat, minerals, etc. In practice, it is the total weight of feed minus the weight of water in the feed, expressed as a percentage. It is determined by drying the feed sample in an oven until the sample reaches a stable weight. This is normally a simple analysis. However, for ruminants (cow, sheep, goat and etc.) estimates of the DM of fermented materials such as silage are complicated by the presence of volatile fatty acids. These acids are removed in the drying process but they are part of the dry matter and are digestible. Dry matter basis indicates the nutrient levels in a feed sample based on its dry matter content (i.e., excluding its water content). This is also referred to as “Dry Basis,” “Dry Results” or “Moisture-free Basis.” As there is considerable variation in the water content of forages, excluding the water or expressing the nutrient levels on a dry matter basis eliminates the dilution effect of the water, thereby providing the essential common basis for direct comparison of the nutrient contents across different forages.
In the AgroCares Scanner app, all nutrients (except amino acids and minerals) in wet materials (silage) are usually expressed on a dry matter (DM) basis due to the great variation in moisture content. For dry feed materials, reports are given in values/kg material (as fed). The composition of dry matter determines the nutritional value of the feed. The nutrient content is expressed in DM, which describes how many nutrients are in dry matter.
- Crude Ash
Ash is a crude measurement of the total amounts of minerals in a diet. It’s called ash because of how it is determined. Samples of feed are put into a furnace and then burned until they reach a constant weight. This means that the only thing left is elements that won’t burn, namely minerals (calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper, zinc, etc.). All organic materials such as fat, protein, fiber, and vitamins have been completely burned away. So, ash isn’t added to food, it’s what is left when everything else burns away during analysis; it is just one way to measure minerals in a diet.
To calculate estimate energy and calculate non-fiber carbohydrate content, the ash content can be used as follows: (NFC = 100 − (NDF-NDFCP) + CP + Fat + Ash)). Because feeding minerals to animals is a common and necessary practice it is important to understand what constitutes a normal ash content in forage or TMR and what constitutes an abnormal ash content. For example, the normal ash content of legume-grass forages is near 90g/kg DM, however, if a 100-180 g/kg DM ash is observed, the legume-grass forages are likely to contain an increasing amount of soil. With FeedCares solution, it is possible to monitor if the forages are contaminated with soil.
- Crude Protein
The crude protein content of a feed sample represents the total nitrogen (N) in the diet, which includes not only true protein but also non-protein nitrogen (e.g., urea and ammonia in a feed; nitrate is not included in nonprotein nitrogen). The word "crude" refers to the fact that not all nitrogen in most feed is exclusively in the form of protein. Because N is an integral part of any amino acid, non-protein nitrogen has the potential to be utilized for protein synthesis by rumen microorganisms. In laboratory analysis, total N present in a feed sample is first determined and then the total amount of protein is calculated by multiplying the total N by a factor. This factor is 6.25 for forages because leaf and stem tissue proteins generally contain 16 percent nitrogen, or one part nitrogen to 6.25 parts protein. For seeds, this factor is different (e.g., 5.70 for wheat and 5.90 for other cereal grains).
Protein in feed is the supplier of amino acids for the synthesis of proteins by the animal and is a crucial energy source mostly for ruminants. Amino acids can be described as building blocks of the protein. There are approximately 20 different amino acids, which can be divided into two groups: essential amino acids that can only be supplied by feed and non-essential amino acids that can be synthesized by the animal. The figure below explains the protein turnover in the animals. The protein supply plays a very important role in animal products quality (meat, milk, eggs, etc.), body growth and environment. Insufficient supplement protein in the feed will lead to low quality of products and may also lead to health problems for animals. Overfeeding protein to animals will release excess nitrogen into the environment, harming the environment. In general, the crude protein level in the dairy cattle diet is about 15% - 18% of dry matter.
- Crude Fat (ee)
Crude fat contains true fat (triglycerides) as well as alcohols, waxes, terpenes, steroids, pigments, ester, aldehydes and other lipids. Fats are composed of building blocks called fatty acids. Fats in feed samples are typically determined through ether extraction (EE). In addition to fat, EE may solubilize some other compounds like plant pigments, esters and aldehydes. This is why the measurement of fat through EE is called crude fat. True fat can be measured by determining the content of fatty acids or it can be estimated in forages as ether extract minus one. We usually measure fat content in plant based materials (such as forages, soybeans & soybean meal, distillers grain, oilseeds, grains, corn, cottonseed and so on) by using ether extraction (ee).
- Crude Fat (ah)
This method is used to measure crude fat by acid hydrolysis. The fat is released with hydrochloric acid and is extracted with ethyl ether and hexane. It is then filtered, dried, and gravimetrically measured. If we are measuring animal based feed materials (such as fishmeal, bone meal, meat or so on) we need them in our calibration by using acid hydrolysis (ah).
- Crude Fiber
Crude fiber is made up of plant cell structural components, including cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and pectin. For nonruminant animals, crude fiber is of little value energy-wise. Crude fiber refers to the indigestible portion of plant material present in a feed sample. It is a measure of the structural carbohydrates, primarily cellulose and lignin, which are resistant to enzymatic digestion by animals. Crude fiber analysis provides information about the dietary fiber content of a feed, which is important for understanding its nutritional value and impact on animal digestion. While some animals, such as ruminants, have specialized digestive systems that can break down fiber more effectively, others, like monogastric animals (e.g., pigs, poultry), have limited ability to digest fiber. It's worth noting that crude fiber analysis has limitations as it tends to underestimate the total fiber content in feedstuffs. The method does not account for other non-cellulosic components like hemicellulose and pectin, which can also contribute to the total fiber content and affect animal digestion. Consequently, more advanced fiber analysis methods, such as neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and acid detergent fiber (ADF), are often employed to provide a more comprehensive characterization of dietary fiber.
Starch is an intracellular (occurs within the cells) carbohydrate found primarily in the grain or seed and/or root portions of plants. Starch is a readily available source of energy. Starch is a highly digestible carbohydrate for most animals, including monogastric animals (e.g., pigs, poultry) and non-ruminant herbivores. However, in ruminant animals (e.g., cattle, sheep), the digestion of starch primarily occurs in the rumen through the activity of rumen microbes.
Starch content in feedstuffs can vary depending on the source. For example, grains like corn and wheat are known to have higher starch concentrations compared to forages or fibrous feed materials. The amount and digestibility of starch in the diet are important considerations in formulating balanced animal diets, as it contributes to meeting their energy requirements.
Excessive consumption of rapidly digestible starch, especially in monogastric animals, can lead to issues such as digestive disorders and metabolic imbalances. Therefore, in animal nutrition, it is common to balance the inclusion of starch with other dietary components, such as protein, fiber, and fats, to meet the specific nutritional needs of different animal species and stages of production.
Measuring starch levels in animal nutrition is important for several reasons:
- Energy Evaluation: Starch is a significant source of energy in animal diets. By accurately measuring the starch content of feed ingredients or complete diets, nutritionists can assess the available energy for the animals. This information is crucial for formulating diets that meet the energy requirements of different animal species and production stages.
- Nutritional Balance: Starch is one of the major carbohydrate sources in animal feeds, but excessive or inadequate levels can negatively impact animal performance and health. Measuring starch levels helps nutritionists optimize the inclusion of starch in diets to achieve a proper balance of nutrients. It allows for precise adjustments to avoid overloading animals with excessive starch, which can lead to digestive disorders, metabolic imbalances, or impaired gut health.
- Feed Efficiency: Starch digestion and utilization vary across different animal species and stages of production. By measuring starch levels, nutritionists can determine the digestibility and availability of starch in various feed ingredients. This information assists in formulating diets that promote efficient starch utilization, enhancing feed efficiency and minimizing nutrient wastage.
- Glycemic Response: Starch digestion influences the glycemic response in animals, particularly in monogastric species. High-starch diets can lead to rapid glucose release, causing a sharp rise in blood glucose levels. Monitoring and managing starch levels allow nutritionists to design diets that help maintain a balanced glycemic response, which is important for preventing metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance or hyperglycemia.
- Ingredient Evaluation: Different feed ingredients vary in their starch content. Measuring starch levels helps in evaluating and comparing the nutritional composition of different feed ingredients. This information aids in ingredient selection, formulation, and ration balancing, ensuring appropriate nutrient profiles and cost-effective diets.
- Starch (Amyloglucosidase)
Amyloglucosidase, also known as glucoamylase, is added to the gelatinized sample. This enzyme specifically hydrolyzes the starch into glucose molecules. Amyloglucosidase breaks down the α-1,4 and α-1,6 glycosidic linkages in starch, releasing glucose units. The amyloglucosidase method for measuring starch content provides accurate, specific, and reliable results. Its benefits include accuracy, complete starch digestion, wide applicability, efficiency, reproducibility, and its role in nutritional evaluation and feed formulation. These advantages make it a valuable tool in animal nutrition research, feed analysis, and quality control processes.
In animal nutrition, sugar refers to a group of simple carbohydrates, also known as saccharides, that are classified as monosaccharides or disaccharides. These sugars are an important source of energy for animals and play various roles in their diets. Here are some key points about sugar in animal nutrition:
Types of Sugars: Sugars can be classified into two main categories: monosaccharides and disaccharides.
Monosaccharides: These are single sugar units and include glucose, fructose, and galactose. Glucose is a primary source of energy for many organisms, including animals. Fructose is commonly found in fruits and some vegetables, while galactose is less common in dietary sources.
Disaccharides: These are formed by the combination of two monosaccharides. Examples include sucrose (glucose + fructose), lactose (glucose + galactose), and maltose (glucose + glucose).
- Energy Source: Sugars are rapidly and easily digested by animals, providing a quick source of energy. Monosaccharides can be directly absorbed into the bloodstream from the digestive system, while disaccharides are broken down into their respective monosaccharides by specific enzymes before absorption.
- Palatability and Feed Intake: Sugars are often highly palatable to animals, contributing to the overall palatability of feed. Including sugars in animal diets can enhance feed intake and improve diet acceptability.
- Role in Ruminant Nutrition: In ruminant animals, such as cattle and sheep, sugars play a crucial role in rumen fermentation. Sugars are rapidly fermented by rumen microbes, producing volatile fatty acids (VFAs), which are important energy sources for the animal. Sugars can also stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial fiber-digesting bacteria in the rumen.
- Role in Non-Ruminant Nutrition: In non-ruminant animals, including monogastric species like pigs and poultry, sugars are rapidly digested and absorbed in the small intestine. They provide a readily available energy source for these animals.
- Nutritional Considerations: While sugars can provide valuable energy in animal diets, excessive consumption of rapidly digestible sugars, particularly in monogastric animals, can lead to issues such as digestive disorders and metabolic imbalances.
Therefore, the inclusion of sugars in animal diets should be balanced with other nutrients and carefully considered based on the specific nutritional requirements and production goals of the animals.
NFE stands for Nitrogen-Free Extract. It is a component of the proximate analysis system used to estimate the energy content of feed for animals. The proximate analysis divides the components of a feed sample into several categories, including crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, ash, and nitrogen-free extract (NFE). NFE includes various carbohydrates, such as sugars, starch, and other non-structural carbohydrates. It represents the readily available energy sources in the feed that can be digested and utilized by the animal for energy production. NFE is commonly used in feed analysis and diet formulation to estimate the energy content and to balance the nutrient composition of animal diets. It helps nutritionists assess the available energy sources for animals and optimize the formulation of balanced and nutritionally appropriate diets for specific species and production stages.
NDF stands for Neutral Detergent Fiber, and it is a key component used in animal nutrition to assess the fiber content of feedstuffs and its impact on animal digestion and performance. NDF is a measure of the structural components of plants that are resistant to digestion by animals, primarily consisting of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. Here are some important points about NDF and its significance in animal nutrition:
- Fiber Content: NDF provides an estimate of the total fiber content in feedstuffs. Fiber is a complex carbohydrate that is generally less digestible compared to other components of the diet, such as starch and sugars. NDF includes both insoluble fiber (cellulose and lignin) and partially soluble fiber (hemicellulose).
- Ruminant Nutrition: In ruminant animals (e.g., cattle, sheep, goats), NDF plays a critical role in rumen fermentation. Rumen microbes utilize NDF as a substrate for fermentation, producing volatile fatty acids (VFAs) that serve as an energy source for the animal. NDF is important for maintaining rumen health, stimulating rumination, and promoting the growth of beneficial fiber-digesting microbes.
- Non-Ruminant Nutrition: In non-ruminant animals (e.g., pigs, poultry), NDF has a different impact on digestion and nutrient utilization. While non-ruminants have limited ability to digest NDF, the presence of dietary fiber can influence gut health, nutrient absorption, and overall digestive function. High levels of NDF in non-ruminant diets can affect feed intake, nutrient digestibility, and the physical characteristics of feces.
- Digestibility and Feed Efficiency: NDF is inversely related to feed digestibility. As NDF content increases, feed digestibility tends to decrease, resulting in reduced nutrient availability to the animal. Low-quality forages or feed ingredients with high NDF levels may have lower digestibility and require longer retention time in the digestive system. This can impact feed efficiency and the overall performance of animals.
- Filling Effect: Diets high in NDF can increase the physical bulk of the diet, leading to a greater feeling of fullness or satiety in animals. This filling effect can influence feed intake and may be beneficial in certain situations, such as managing weight gain or controlling overconsumption.
- Diet Formulation: NDF content is considered an important parameter in diet formulation for both ruminant and non-ruminant animals. It helps nutritionists balance the nutrient composition and energy density of the diet, optimize rumen function and fermentation in ruminants, and promote gut health and digestive efficiency in non-ruminants.
Measuring NDF content is typically done using standardized laboratory methods, such as the use of neutral detergents to remove soluble components and isolate the fiber fraction. The NDF value obtained provides valuable information for understanding the fiber characteristics and nutritional attributes of feed ingredients and formulating diets that meet the specific needs of animals.
Overall, NDF is a crucial parameter in animal nutrition, influencing digestion, rumen function, gut health, feed intake, and nutrient utilization. It helps nutritionists optimize diets, improve animal performance, and ensure the overall well-being and productivity of animals.
ADF stands for Acid Detergent Fiber, and it is a crucial component used in animal nutrition to evaluate the fibrous content of feedstuffs and its impact on animal digestion and performance. ADF is a measure of the structural components of plants that are resistant to digestion by animals, primarily consisting of cellulose and lignin.
- Fiber Content: ADF provides an estimate of the indigestible fiber content in feedstuffs. It primarily includes cellulose and lignin, which are complex carbohydrates that are resistant to enzymatic digestion by animals.
- Digestibility: ADF is inversely related to feed digestibility. As the ADF content increases, feed digestibility tends to decrease. High ADF content indicates a higher proportion of indigestible fiber in the feed, which affects nutrient availability and utilization by the animal.
- Ruminant Nutrition: In ruminant animals (e.g., cattle, sheep, goats), ADF plays a significant role in rumen fermentation. Rumen microbes utilize the cellulose component of ADF as a substrate for fermentation, producing volatile fatty acids (VFAs) that serve as an energy source for the animal. Lignin, on the other hand, is highly indigestible and provides structural support to plant tissues.
- Non-Ruminant Nutrition: In non-ruminant animals (e.g., pigs, poultry), ADF has a different impact on digestion and nutrient utilization. Non-ruminants have limited ability to digest ADF, and the presence of high ADF levels in the diet can lead to reduced nutrient availability and lower feed efficiency. Therefore, the inclusion of feed ingredients with high ADF content must be carefully considered in non-ruminant diet formulation.
- Fiber Quality and Animal Performance: ADF content affects the physical characteristics of feed, such as bulkiness and texture, which can influence feed intake and animal performance. Diets with higher ADF levels are often associated with reduced feed intake, slower growth rates, and lower feed efficiency in animals.
- Forage Quality: ADF is commonly used to evaluate the quality of forage. High-quality forage typically has lower ADF content, indicating a higher proportion of digestible fiber and better nutrient availability for the animal. ADF analysis helps in selecting and formulating diets that meet the nutritional requirements of ruminant animals based on the fiber content of forages.
- Feed Formulation: ADF content is considered an important parameter in diet formulation, especially for ruminant animals. It helps nutritionists balance the nutrient composition and energy density of the diet, optimize rumen function, and promote efficient digestion and utilization of feed resources.
ADF is a critical parameter in animal nutrition, reflecting the fibrous content of feedstuffs and influencing feed digestibility, nutrient utilization, feed intake, and animal performance. By considering the ADF content in feed formulation, nutritionists can optimize diets for different animal species, promote efficient digestion, and ensure the overall health and productivity of animal.
ADL stands for Acid Detergent Lignin, and it is a component used in animal nutrition to assess the lignin content of feedstuffs. Lignin is a complex, indigestible substance that provides structural support to plant tissues.
- Lignin Content: ADL provides an estimation of the lignin content in feedstuffs. Lignin is a complex polymer found in the cell walls of plants and is highly resistant to degradation by animal digestive enzymes. It is considered to be the most indigestible component of plant material.
- Fiber Composition: ADL is part of the fiber fraction of feedstuffs along with cellulose and hemicellulose. However, unlike cellulose and hemicellulose, which are digestible to some extent by certain microbial populations in the rumen, lignin remains largely unaffected by microbial fermentation.
- Impact on Digestibility: The presence of lignin has a negative impact on the digestibility of feedstuffs. It creates a physical barrier, making the other components of the plant cell wall less accessible to microbial enzymes and animal digestive enzymes. As a result, the inclusion of lignin-rich feedstuffs in animal diets can reduce nutrient digestibility and overall feed efficiency.
- Nutrient Availability: Lignin reduces the availability of other nutrients present in feedstuffs by limiting their accessibility and hindering their release during digestion. This can have implications for the utilization of energy, protein, and other essential nutrients by animals.
- Forage Quality: ADL is often used as an indicator of forage quality, particularly in ruminant nutrition. Higher ADL values indicate a higher lignin content, which is associated with more mature and less digestible plant material. Lower ADL values are desirable in forage, as they indicate a higher proportion of more digestible and nutrient-rich plant components.
- Feed Formulation: ADL content is considered in diet formulation for ruminant animals, especially when selecting and balancing forage-based diets. By considering the ADL content, nutritionists can assess the potential digestibility and energy availability of forage sources and make appropriate adjustments in the diet formulation process.
NSP stands for Non-Starch Polysaccharides, also known as dietary fiber, in animal nutrition. NSP refers to a group of complex carbohydrates present in feedstuffs that are not classified as starch. It includes various components such as cellulose, hemicellulose, pectins, gums, and β-glucans. Non-Starch Polysaccharides (NSP), or dietary fiber, play a vital role in animal nutrition. Their indigestible nature, impact on digestibility, fermentation in the gut, influence on gut health, and role in feed formulation underscore their significance. By considering NSP content in feed formulation, nutritionists can optimize nutrient utilization, promote gut health, and ensure the overall well-being and performance of animals.