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Feed formulation softwares are computer based mathematical programmes/models aimed at achieving least cost and maximizing profits when formulating feeds.
“Feed formulation” is the process of matching the nutritional requirement of a given animal with the nutrient of a given raw material or ingredient, in an economic manner.
In other terms, feed formulation allows to quantify the ingredients combination in order to form a single mixture (feed or diet) to feed animals and supply all the nutrients to that given animal.
Feed formulation is one of the important aspects in livestock farming and the livestock industry in any given country or area. The establishment of the feed industry is directly influenced and depends on the quality of the available feeds.
In addition, the quality of the feed supplied depends on the quality of the raw materials that constitute the feeds. It is against this background that the quality of the feed or diet given to an animal should constitute or supply all basic nutrients needed by the animal in adequate amounts and the feed has to be highly digestible.
Another important aspect to consider when formulating feeds for animals is that the feed should consist of all essential nutrients needed by the target animal (age group, growth stage and production purpose) with respect to the cost. In addition, the formulated feed has to be palatable (in an easy form that is attractive and acceptable to the animal) and should have minimal adverse environmental consequences.
Types of feed formulation softwares
The use of computers in feed formulation started in the early 1970s when computers were only affordable to well established companies. In the 1980s the use of computers in feed formulation rose when personal computers became commercially available to everyone. Today, feed formulation without a computer is very uncommon.
In today’s world there are various non-conventional and conventional feed formulation software programmes. The use of any selected feed formulation by farmers depends on their objective, for example: increased milk yield, low cost, meat quality…
Examples of conventional methods used in feed formulation available in the market are:
- Simultaneous equation methods – usually provides diets with a combination of only two elements, it serves just for basic calculation.
- Two by two matrix method – combines a series of factors which are key to obtaining the desired result on a specific aspect.
- Trial and error method – it’s very time consuming since it provides various dietary combinations until all the nutritional requirements are met.
- Least square method – takes into account one nutritional factor with only two ingredients, it’s pretty limited but easy to use.
- Linear programming and Non-linear programming – they are more complex methods that combine different factors in relation to the desired output.
- Least cost formulation – it’s a linear programming method which takes least cost into account as a priority requirement.
What are the fields of a feed formulation software programme?
Often available on internet and for download, feed formulation softwares usually consist of the following functions:
- Animal type: cattle, sheep, goats, chicken, pig and horses …
- Feed type: production feed, growth feed, maintenance feed etc…
- Ingredients: contains a database of ingredients and their costs. Also includes the ingredients nutritional content.
- Nutrients: energy, protein, fiber, mineral etc…
- Nutrient composition: list of nutrient values for each ingredient.
- Nutritional specification: includes ingredients inclusion level in a diet.
- Formula analysis: contains a sequence of how the feed can be formulated.
Feed formulation softwares are easy to use, time-saving and reduce human calculation errors, providing better feed to the animals and granting a higher productivity and yield over time.