In modern high-density poultry feeds, liquid feed fats are an important component. They provide an excellent source of essential fatty acids and energy thanks to the range of crude vegetable oils and vegetable oil fatty acids blended into them. These include soybean, palm, rapeseed and sunflower.

Although liquid feed fats make up only a small percentage of compound feeds, they can have a significant impact on the diet of poultry as they offer a better array of fatty acids and a different acid profile than using crude soy oil alone.

Tailored formulation

Liquid feed fat producers work closely with raw material planners and production staff at feed manufacturers and poultry integrators to support their weekly raw materials requirements for vegetable-based oil and fat blends.

Being able to control the levels of fatty acids and energy, through different blends, is important as poultry require significantly varying amounts of energy at different stages of their development. Liquid feed fats can make up 5 percent of the compound feed of birds over five days old.

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Young poultry utilize unsaturated fatty acids more efficiently than saturated ones.

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Poultry liquid feed fat blends tend to have higher levels of oleic and linoleic acid as the birds utilize unsaturated fatty acids more efficiently than saturated ones, especially at a young age. Saturated fatty acids are also normally included in the blend as this aids carcass composition and egg size control.

The level of fat in the blend affects palatability and the overall physical quality of the feed whether in mash or pelleted diets. All fats should be blended from a strictly controlled range of sustainable ingredients to produce a consistent fatty acid profile, giving good digestibility and handling characteristics.

Further benefits of liquid feed fats

Alongside the nutritional benefits, liquid feed fats can be more cost effective than crude soy oil, as they are usually less expensive.

They can also aid health and safety as, despite the seemingly innocuous nature of the materials involved, milling, handling and storing of grain and feed can all constitute a risk. Dust generated or circulated during these processes can ignite and cause an explosion.

Grain dust produced during the various agricultural processes, including harvesting, drying, handling, storage and processing can also cause respiratory problems for exposed employees.

In the U.K., for example, the Health and Safety Executive has reported that “Respiratory disease is a major occupational health risk. For example, in agriculture, the number of occupational asthma cases is double the national average. Studies have shown that workers' exposure to grain dust can be substantial.

“Workers with occupational respiratory disease may develop permanent breathing problems, becoming disabled and unable to work.”

By binding the compound feed pellets together, the liquid feed fats act as a dust suppressant, making it easier and safer to transport and distribute feed.

Safety throughout the food chain

Food safety is essential along the food chain. It is vital that nothing undesirable enters the feed, as this could cause problems for the poultry and the end customer. It is important that there are several tests on the feed, not just the initial raw ingredients.

Problems can occur during poultry feed blending or storage, and this should not be overlooked. Consumers are increasingly concerned about where their food comes from, and suppliers must be confident that they can ensure safe practices throughout the food chain.

Regular checks give the greatest feed safety to customers, to ensure that all blends are only released for sale once the various test results are proven satisfactory. This "positive release" system is the most "feed safe" method of operating, ensuring full traceability, and minimizes the risk of a product recall, which benefits everyone in the industry and end customers.

Big part to play

Although they account for only a small part of the overall poultry feed, liquid feed fats make a major contribution to energy management, handling ability and a safe working environment in a cost-effective manner.

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Saturated fatty acids aid carcass composition and egg size control.