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Animal Feed and Nutrition

Different types of animals need different types of food.

Cats don't eat the same things as dogs and pigs don't eat the same as chickens. Apart from variations within a species; there are also variations according to where the animal is kept, and what it does. Animals that exercise a lot, need energy to fuel their movement. Growing animals need food to increase their size. Old animals may not need to eat as much. 
Feeding is the most important factor in successful animal care. An animal will only perform at it's potential if it is fed well. Being 'well fed' does not imply being 'over fed'. An animal that is fed well is given just enough (but not more) of the correct foods so that it can realise its production potential.

To feed more than necessary would be wasteful and uneconomical and could lead to health problems in animals. A successful farmer or pet owner will feed at the 'optimum level'. In other words, he will feed just enough (but not more) that is need for optimum health or production.

It requires a great deal of skill, knowledge and practice to be able to feed animals optimally. The first step is to gain a good understanding of the different types of food that can be fed to livestock. The second step is to learn how the different foods can be mixed together to form balanced rations for animals.

An important step is also to observe animals around you. By noting what they are fed and how well they seem to be doing, you can begin to develop an eye for feeding animals well. This step will never be completed for there is always something new to learn about the way different animals respond to food. In addition, new foods are constantly being developed, and it will be up to you to try them out and see if they work for your animals.

How Much Food
Too much food can be as bad as too little. Over feeding animals can lead to obesity and health problems. Under feeding them can also lead to health problems.
The ideal maintenance ration is the amount that would allow the animal only enough to stay in the initial condition (ie: to support life with no product, no gain, no loss of body substance). It is the minimum amount of food required to keep the animal alive. This can be particularly important for maintaining stock when there is a shortage of feed (e.g. drought conditions).
Balanced Maintenance Ration
This definition has two parts. 'Maintenance Ration' here refers to a feed mixture which is just sufficient to meet the requirements of a specified animal in a 24-hour period. The animal receiving the ration will neither lose nor gain weight. 'Balanced' means that the proportion of carbohydrate, fat and protein in the ration is correct.

Distance Education Course (click here to enrol)


ANIMAL FEED AND NUTRITION (BAG202) (Formerly Animal Husbandry lll)

By studying this course you will develop a broad understanding of to the correct feeding of domestic animals (farm animals and pets) for health and productivity. Though focussed mainly on domesticated animals thew course is nevertheless still a valuable training opportunity for anyone involved in even care of wild animals.

Duration:100 hours (nominal duration)


There are ten lessons in this unit, as follows:
1.Introduction to Animal Foods
2.Food Components: Carbohydrates, Fats
3.Food Components: Proteins, Minerals.
4.Evaluating Foods & Digestibility
5.Classifying Foods: Part A.
6.Classifying Foods: Part B.
7.Classifying Foods: Part C.
8.Calculating Rations: Part A.
9.Calculating Rations: Part B.
10. Calculating Rations: Part C.
·Describe the range of livestock feeds and feeding methods available for animal production, using accepted industry terminology.
·Explain the role of energy foods, including the sources and functions of those foods, in animal diets.
·Explain the function of the major nutritional groups, including proteins, vitamins, minerals and trace elements in animal diets.
·Explain the on-farm methods used to evaluate feeding, including selection of feeds and feed digestibility.
·Evaluate the dietary value of pastures, including grasses, cereals, and other edible plants, and their by-products for animal feeds.
·Explain the dietary value of seeds, including oil seeds, legume seeds and their by-products as food sources for animals.
·Evaluate the dietary value of fodder plants, including trees and shrubs and their by-products, as a food source in animal production.
·Determine suitable feed rations for a farm animal maintenance program.
·Analyse the method(s) to determine suitable feed rations in a farm animal production program.
·Evaluate the dietary value of protein in an animal production program.
·Explain the factors affecting the composition of feed rations in animal production.
·Explain the importance of feed quality in livestock production.
·Describe the various food groups that animal foodstuffs are based upon.
·Define at least fifteen relevant industry terms related to livestock feed, feeding and feed processing.
·Explain the role of water in animal nutrition.
·Describe three different, commercially available, animal feeds, including the composition and appropriate uses for each.
·List the chemical names of at least five different carbohydrates which are of importance to animal production.
·Evaluate the roles of four different carbohydrates in animal metabolism.
·List the important sources of carbohydrates for at least four different types of farm animals.
·List the chemical names of at least five different fats which are important to animal production.
·Compare fat deposition patterns in three different animals.
·Explain the role of two different lipids in animal metabolism.
·List the important sources of fats and lipids used in livestock feeds.
·Explain the importance of proteins to animal production.
·Describe the chemical composition of naturally occurring proteins.
·List the sources of protein commonly used in foodstuffs for two different types of farm animal species.
·Explain the differences in protein requirements for different animals.
·List five vitamins of importance in livestock nutrition.
·List five minerals of importance in livestock nutrition, including their source foods, requirement levels, physiological functions, and deficiency symptoms.
·List five trace elements of importance in livestock nutrition, and including their source foods, requirement levels, physiological functions, and deficiency symptoms.
·Prepare a one page chart or table comparing the vitamin, mineral, protein and trace elements components of three different commercial animal feeds.
·Explain the function and source of the various nutritional components found in three different commercial livestock nutrient supplements.
·Describe the components of a specified animal feed.
·Distinguish between the 'protein value' and 'energy value' of two specified animal feeds.
·Explain the concept of 'digestibility' as it relates to animal feed.
·Describe the techniques used to calculate digestibility of animal feeds.
·Perform a calculation of digestibility for a specified feed.
·Describe two standard methods used to assess animal feeds.
·Compare five different feeds, in terms of composition, relative digestibility, palatability.
·List at least five cereal and cereal by-product feeds used in animal production.
·Describe the food value characteristics of five cereals and cereal by-product feeds used in animal production.
·List at least five grasses and forage crops used as farm animal feeds.
·Describe the dietary value of five forage crops, including grasses, used in animal production.
·List at least five harvested feed products, including hay, roughage and silage used as feeds in animal production.
·Explain the dietary value characteristics of five harvested feed products including hays, roughage and silage used in animal production.
·Explain the dietary value of a growing pasture, on a farm visited and studied by you.
·Compare the nutritional value to farm animals, of ten different pasture foodstuffs, including cereals, grasses, hay and their by-products.
·List four oil seeds (or their by-products) used as feeds in animal production.
·Explain the use of oil seeds (or their by-products) as animal feeds.
·List three legume seeds used as feeds in animal production.
·Evaluate the dietary value of three different legume seeds, as animal feeds.
·Collect small samples of three oil seeds and three legume seeds.
·Compare the characteristics of two different oil seed species, with two different legume seed species. List five fodder plants (or their by-products) used as feed in animal production.
·Provide recommendations on how three different fodder plant species may be used as an animal feed source on a specified farm.
·Compare the nutritional value of three different fodder plant species.
·Explain the objective of maintenance rationing in two different farm situations observed by you.
·Explain the differences in feed rations given to maintain the same type of animal on two separate farms.
·Describe the nutritional requirements of two different specified types of livestock.
·Calculate a 'maintenance feed ration' for a specified farm animal.
·Develop a maintenance feeding program, for a group of animals, such as a herd of cattle or flock of sheep. 
 Click here to enrol in Animal Feed and Nutrition

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