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10 Main Ingredients in Farm Animal Feed

main ingredients in farm animal feed

Have you considered making your mix for your livestock feed? What do you think are the main ingredients in farm animal feed?

If you are entirely new to raising livestock, then you’re in the right place! In this article, you will learn what animal feed is made of and what other nutrients you can add to ensure the health of your animals.

There are many things to consider when it comes to animal feed ingredients.

Aside from checking the nutrients, you must also look into the proportions, storage, preparation, and your animal’s current health status.

The good thing about raising livestock is that the feed ingredients are not hard to come by. You can easily acquire these items on your farm or buy them in the local market.

What are the Main Ingredients in Farm Animal Feed?

The main ingredients in farm animal feed are often grouped into crucial groups. This way, you can ensure that your animals get the nutrients they need in each food group.

You know the three food groups for human food: Go, Grow & Glow.

It’s the same thing with the food for livestock.

The components of animal feed stem from three key groups: energy sources, protein, and vitamins.

Feeding ingredients from each category will give you a complete and well-balanced food for livestock.

animal feed for poultry

Energy Sources or Carbohydrates

This refers to food high in carbohydrates and primarily gives energy to your livestock. Here are several feed ingredients that belong to this key group:

Corn Grits or Maize 

This is considered one of the main ingredients in farm animal feed as it takes about half of the feed composition.

Corn is a reliable carbohydrate source and is packed with fiber, minerals, and vitamins.

Even back then, farm owners primarily fed their poultry with a corn-based diet.

Nowadays, there are genetically modified corn grits that provide more nutrients.


This form of cereal acts as a binding agent in the feed composition.

It provides energy to your farm animals and can also be a minor source of protein.

Noodles Waste

This is a cheaper option since they are close to being leftovers.

You can get this from a noodle factory or simply from your last night’s dinner.

Either way, it contributes a large amount of energy to your animals and has sufficient protein. Noodles are also adaptable, which goes well with other feed options.

livestock feed full of protein


This refers to protein foods that facilitate the growth and repair of body tissues. Animal feed ingredients under this key group do not only limit to meat but also protein-rich plants.

Protein is an essential nutrient, especially for young poultry and livestock. The amount of intake will affect their egg and meat productivity.

Here are samples of protein sources that you can add to your animal feed:

Synthetic Amino Acids

This helps your animals achieve a balanced source of amino acids. The common forms of synthetic amino acids are feed-grade Lysine and Methionine.

You can use these protein sources to add to your existing livestock feed. They help in the growth of chicks, boost egg size, minimize body fat, and improve muscle build-up.

One of the reasons why some farmers don’t use synthetic amino acids as the main ingredients in farm animal feed is that it’s expensive.

To make the most of it, you can combine this protein with other meat sources in the animal feed.

Fish Meat

This has been a reliable protein source, especially for livestock feed. It is packed with amino acids that provide energy to your animals and make their bodies strong and healthy.

The downside of using fish meat is its accessibility and price. It’s not exactly cheap, and you may need an excellent storage area to keep the fish meat fresh. 

Soya Beans

This is a plant-based alternative for protein. As mentioned, fish meat is not easy to store and can be pricey, so it’s best to acquire more accessible protein-rich plants for your livestock feed.

Often used as the main ingredients in farm animal feed, soya beans have become a good source of protein and amino acids.

However, some farmers consider it more a complementary feed than the main dish.

Still, its friendly price and abundant supply have made it an excellent option for protein. Soya beans also go well with foods from other vital groups.

Palm Kernel 

This is another plant-based protein source for livestock feeds that are common and cheaper. Palm kernel may have low protein content, yet it’s high in fiber content and low in digestibility. 

This means that palm kernels can be readily used as one of the feed ingredients, but you should only serve them in moderate proportions.

You may contact a local expert to ensure the proper serving of palm kernel for your livestock feed.

Other protein-rich plant products include canola, cottonseed cakes, peanuts, and safflower meal. Farmers would add vegetable oil or hydrolyzed fats to the animal feed in other cases.

ALSO READ: How to Feed Meat Chickens

Vitamins and Minerals

These essential nutrients boost your livestock’s immune system and repair any cellular damage. It also supports other organs in the body and facilitates their overall health.

Bone Meal 

This is a by-product of processed remnants of dead livestock known to be rich in phosphorous.

However, you may need to inquire about the animal feed regulations since some European countries banned the use of bone meal for animal feed.


This compound is one of the main ingredients in farm animal feed. Salt is high in nutritional value and is necessary for your poultry to live optimal growth and health.

Oyster or Seashells

This is one of the minerals that are a common source of calcium. But just like fish products, they may not be easily accessible or can be expensive. 

As an alternative, eggshells are crushed and added to the animal feed instead. It is equally rich in calcium and easy to prepare.

corn as main ingredient in farm animal feed


What is Animal Feed Made Of & Other Common Feed Ingredients 

The main ingredient in farm animal feed is corn. It comprises about 50% of animal feed components, followed by soybeans (12%) and grains (8%).

There are around 900 safe feed ingredients and products approved for use in animal feeds. Here is a list of common livestock feed ingredients in the United States:

  • Corn
  • Soybean
  • Bread and baked goods
  • Dried and wet grains
  • Cottonseed meal
  • Oats
  • Amino acids
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Enzymes
  • Probiotics
  • Animal protein products
  • Fish and other marine meat
  • Fats and oils
  • Wheat products
  • And many more!

ALSO READ: Top 7 Chicken Feed Brands

What is a Specialty Feed Ingredient and Is It Necessary

A specialty feed ingredient refers to an additive that preserves the feed and heightens its flavors. Other specialty ingredients perform certain functions to improve the animal’s overall health.

So, is a unique feed ingredient necessary? It’s not, but it offers many benefits to the quality of your livestock feed and your animals.

You will observe an increase in appetite among your farm animals, and it becomes more accessible to stock feeds with these preservatives.

Farmers don’t need to worry about the quality of specialty feed ingredients since there are animal feed regulations to ensure their safety and efficacy.

How Is Animal Feed Produced

The components of animal feed will differ depending on the kind of poultry or livestock you have on your farm.

These animal feed ingredients can be plants and seeds that you can find in your area or those bought in a local store.

Either way, here is how food for livestock is produced:

  1. Feed mills acquire raw ingredients where each type is weighed and analyzed for their nutrients and quality.
  2. Animal feed nutritionists create a formula suitable for livestock and poultry of all ages.
  3. After finalizing the right recipe, factories will mix all the feed ingredients in their appropriate settings.
  4. Manufacturers will put the livestock feed into packages with the proper labels and ship it out.

If you’re still asking, “what is livestock feed,” it is the food you give to farm animals that are made up of any feed ingredients that prove to be beneficial, healthy, and safe. You can always create your formula if you want to make sure your animals get the best.

livestock feed ingredients

How to Check the Quality of Livestock Feed Ingredients

During food production for livestock, workers would conduct quality checks to ensure that the feed ingredients are safe, correct, and high-standard.

It would begin with examining each component of animal feed then undergo specific testing methods.

There are many factors to consider when checking the quality of animal feed ingredients.

For instance, the team would need to look into the nutritional value, quantity, fat and protein content, pathogens, and many more.

Animal Feed Regulations You Should Know About

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration is responsible for implementing animal feed regulations to ensure that every livestock feed ingredient is safe for the animals.

They have created a set of guidelines for animal feed manufacturers to follow, and they’re keeping an eye out if these rules were complied with.

The main goals for FDA are to make sure livestock feed is pure, clean, toxic-free, and labeled truthfully.

Once it passes the FDA animal feed regulations, then it’s ready to be served!

Common Questions Asked About Livestock Feed

Like most people, you probably have a few other questions on your mind. To give you a better overview of animal feed, here are common questions asked about food for livestock:

What Makes the Best Animal Feed?

The best livestock feed comprises most of the main ingredients in farm animal feed. But to add more nutrients and flavor, you can add the following:


There are many varieties of hay that provide specific nutrients. For instance, alfalfa hay is known for its phosphorus and calcium content.

When adding hay into the livestock feed, ensure it doesn’t get too dry. Otherwise, it might rot before you have the chance to feed it to your animals. 

Grain Supplement

This option is ideal for winters. Putting these supplements in the diet of your farm animals, especially feeding your chickens, will give them just enough nutrients.

Your animals can increase in a short span. Grain supplements can easily make them fat, so it’s best to feed them in appropriate proportions.


This refers to oats, wheat, barley, corn, and other liquid supplements. Concentrates are known to have less fiber but high nutritional value.

Adding concentrates to your animal feed can be a great supplement. It’s also known to prevent digestion problems, given that you provided the right amount.


This is the most cost-efficient option to add to your animal feed. It has high nutritional density, and your livestock would love to have it on their menu!

What Are The 6 Major Nutrients for Animals?

Like any living being, we all need certain nutrients to function properly and thrive. Animals need these six significant components to be healthy and well enough to provide meat and eggs:

  • Water
  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fat 
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins

animal feed for cows

Main Ingredients in Farm Animal Feed Conclusion

Most farmers readily give their animals whatever feed they can find in the market, but what is animal feed made of?

There are many options to choose from when looking into livestock feed ingredients. 

Animal feed ingredients can range from natural crops like corn or grain. It can also include synthetic amino acids, supplements, and vitamins.

Either way, what matters in feed ingredients is safe, healthy, high quality, and tasty. It’s also essential for livestock feed to comply with animal feed regulations.

Corn is one of the typical main ingredients in farm animal feed, but animal feed components have changed over time.

The food for livestock now includes more supplements and other feed ingredients to ensure every farm animal gets the nutrients it needs.

If you are still hesitant about suitable animal feed, you can ask a local vet or expert in your area.

By then, you will determine the livestock feed ingredients ideal for your farm animals.

READ NEXT: The Ultimate Guide to Making Your Chicken Feed


Main Ingredients in Farm Animal Feed


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