"Fodder" refers particularly to food given to the animals (including plants cut and carried to them), rather than that which they forage for themselves. It includes hay, straw, silage, compressed and pelleted feeds, oils and mixed rations, and sprouted grains and legumes. Feed grains are the most important source of animal feed globally. The amount of grain used to produce the same unit of meat varies substantially. According to an estimate reported by the BBC in 2008, "Cows and sheep need 8kg of grain for every 1kg of meat they produce, pigs about 4kg. The most efficient poultry units need a mere 1.6kg of feed to produce 1kg of chicken." Farmed fish can also be fed on grain, and use even less than poultry. The two most important feed grains are maize and soyabean, and the United States is by far the largest exporter of both, averaging about half of the global maize trade and 40% of the global soya trade in the years leading up the 2012 drought. Other feed grains include wheat, oats, barley, and rice, among many others.
Traditional sources of animal feed include household food scraps and the byproducts of food processing industries such as milling and brewing. Scraps fed to pigs are called slop, and those fed to chicken are called chicken scratch. Brewer's spent grain is a byproduct of beer making that is widely used as animal feed.
"Compound feed" is fodder that is blended from various raw materials and additives. These blends are formulated according to the specific requirements of the target animal. They are manufactured by feed compounders as meal type, pellets or crumbles. The main ingredients used in commercially prepared feed are the feed grains, which include corn, soybeans, sorghum, oats, and barley. Corn production was valued at nearly $25 billion in 2003, while soybean production was valued at $17.5 billion. Roughly 66 percent of sorghum production, which was valued at $965 million in 2003, is used as livestock feed. Approximately 60 percent of barley production, which totaled 227 million bushels (4,610,000 metric tons) and was valued at $765 million in 2003, is used as livestock feed. Annual oat production in 2003 was valued at $218 million.
Compound feed may also include premixes, which may also be sold separately. Premixes are composed of microingredients such as vitamins, minerals, chemical preservatives, antibiotics, fermentation products, and other essential ingredients that are purchased from premix companies, usually in sacked form, for blending into commercial rations. Because of the availability of these products, a farmer who uses his own grain can formulate his own rations and be assured his animals are getting the recommended levels of minerals and vitamins.
According to the American Feed Industry Association, as much as $20 billion worth of feed ingredients are purchased each year. These products range from grain mixes to orange rinds to beet pulps. The feed industry is one of the most competitive businesses in the agricultural sector, and is by far the largest purchaser of U.S. corn, feed grains, and soybean meal. Tens of thousands of farmers with feed mills on their own farms are able to compete with huge conglomerates with national distribution. Feed crops generated $23.2 billion in cash receipts on U.S. farms in 2001. At the same time, farmers spent a total of $24.5 billion on feed that year.
In 2011, around 734.5 million tons of feed were produced annually around the world.
The beginning of industrial-scale production of animal feeds can be traced back to the late 19th century, around the time advances in human and animal nutrition were able to identify the benefits of a balanced diet, and the importance of the role processing of certain raw materials played. Corn gluten feed was first manufactured in 1882, while leading world feed producer Purina Feeds was established in 1894 by William Hollington Danforth. Cargill, which was mainly dealing in grains from its beginnings in 1865, started to deal in feed at about 1884.
The feed industry expanded rapidly in the first quarter of the 20th century, with Purina expanding its operations into Canada, and opened its first feed mill in 1927 (which is still in operation). In 1928, the feed industry was revolutionized by the introduction of the first pelleted feeds - Purina Checkers.
The job of the feed manufacturer is to buy the commodities and blend them in the feed mill according to the specifications outlined by the animal nutritionist. There is little room for error because, if the ration is not apportioned correctly, lowered animal production and diminished outward appearance can occur.
The world's largest feed manufacturer is the CP Group Thailand, producing 18 million tonnes of compound feed at various locations across East Asia.
The merge of the Hamburg-based traditional commodity trade firm, Cremer, and the Düsseldorf based Deuka (Deutsche Kraftfutterwerke), led to one of the largest feed companies in Europe. The new Cremer Group produces around 3.5 million tons. BOCM Pauls in the UK produces around the same amount if not more.
Leading U.S. companies involved in prepared feeds production in the early first decade of the 21st century included ConAgra Inc., an Omaha, Nebraska-based firm; and Cargill, Incorporated, a diversified company that was the nation's top exporter of grain. In 1998, Ralston Purina Company, based in St. Louis, Missouri, formed Agribrands International, Inc. to control its international animal feed and agricultural products division. Agribrands produced feed and other products for livestock in markets outside of the United States, and had about 75 facilities operating in 16 countries. In 2001, it was acquired by Cargill.
Other significant industry players included Conti Group Companies, Inc., the world's leading cattle feeder; CHS, Inc. (previously known as Cenex Harvest States Cooperative), which was primarily involved in grain trading; and Farmland Industries, Inc., the leading agricultural cooperative in the United States. Farmland was a worldwide exporter of products, such as grain. In May 2002, the firm declared bankruptcy, and in the following year, Smithfield Foods acquired most of Farmland's assets.
"Forage" is plant material (mainly plant leaves and stems) eaten by grazing livestock. Historically, the term forage has meant only plants eaten by the animals directly as pasture, crop residue, or immature cereal crops, but it is also used more loosely to include similar plants cut for fodder and carried to the animals, especially as hay or silage.
- Bird food
- Cat food
- Cattle feeding
- Dog food
- Equine nutrition
- Pet food
- Pig farming
- Poultry feed
- Sheep husbandry
- Chelates in animal nutrition
- Factory farming
- Feed safety
- Food safety
- Pellet mill
- R. A. Zinn University of California, Davis A Guide to Feed Mixing
- "World Feed Panorama: Once again, industry increases its volume", 31-1-2012, www.wattagnet.com
- Fageria, N.K. (1997). Growth and Mineral Nutrition of Field Crops. NY,NY: Marcel Dekker. p. 595.
- Fageria, N.K. (1997). Growth and Mineral Nutrition of Field Crops. NY,NY: Marcel Dekker. p. 583.
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