Egg Industry - March 2018 - 20
20 ❙ EggIndustry
Fish meal in poultry diets: to
use, or not to use?
Once a staple ingredient in poultry diets, today it is considered
either an expensive luxury or an unavoidable necessity,
but where does the truth lie?
Once upon a time, good quality fish meal was US$500
per imperial ton, or thereabouts, and everyone was using it. Poultry diets invariably contained 5 percent fish
meal, with early broiler feeds and layer diets having as
much as 10 percent. What prevented most nutritionists
from using even more fish meal in poultry diets was
not cost, but its concentration in fish oil.
With 10 percent oil, adding 10 percent fish meal
in any diet gives 1 percent fish oil, which is the maximum poultry will tolerate before they start rejecting
feed or producing eggs with "fishy" aroma. In fact, it
was not so much the fishy aroma of feeds that caused
broilers go off feed easily but rather the rapidity with
which fish oil became rancid - and stale fish oil really stinks! But, again, fish meal was an indispensable
ingredient in poultry diets, to the point most nutrition-
ists claimed the "factor-X," or unknown nutrient in
fish meal, that was yet to be identified - perhaps they
were right, but we will never find out now.
Why fish meal was so popular?
Fish meal was so popular because the ratio of price
to nutritive value was exceptional. At a price that today
is closer to full-fat soybeans, fish meal offered double
(almost) the protein, a better amino acid profile and a
boost in feed intake that was not to be found in other
ingredients. When feed intake, for any reason, was a
problem, nutritionists always considered increasing the
concentration of fish meal. In fact, one of the ingredients that helped in the transition to antibiotic-free feeds
was fish meal, used in levels reaching sometimes up
to 15 percent. But, back then, fish meal was always of
Depleted stocks of wild fish are causing fish
meal prices to soar. Melvinlee | Dreamstime.com
www.WATTAgNet.com ❙ March 2018