Why Soybean Meal is a Must In Your Poultry Feed Today

Why Soybean Meal is a Must In Your Poultry Feed Today

Soybean meal dominates the market for protein supplements for poultry. There are a number of reasons for this, including its consistency in nutrient content, its ready availability year-round, and its high content of crude protein. Because poultry producers desire high-energy diets, soybean meal is a superior value because no other common plant protein feedstuff exceeds soybean meal in crude protein content. Soybean meal matches or exceeds all other common plant proteins in both total and digestible amino acid content.


Soybean meal is perhaps the only common protein supplement that is typically included in poultry rations with no limitation as to the quantity used. When properly toasted to denature the trypsin inhibitors, there are no antinutritive factors to consider when formulating diets.

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With the single exception of methionine, soybean meal is an almost ideal protein supplement for all types of poultry. When blended with corn or grain sorghum, soybean meal provides a good balance of all the essential amino acids needed by poultry except for methionine.

However, methionine is economically provided by supplements produced by the chemical industry, allowing simple corn-soybean meal diets to effectively meet the amino acid requirements of the chick.

History of Usage in Poultry Diets

Given the overwhelming use of soybean meal in poultry feeds today, it is difficult to imagine that not much more than 50 years ago soybean meal was not the predominant protein source. In the early 1940s, manufacture of poultry feed was dominated by large flour millers, who used poultry feed as an outlet for wheat bran and other milling byproducts. Animal feedstuffs such as meat and bone meal and fish meal were favored as protein sources, not only for the protein they provided but also because they were rich sources of vitamins and minerals. The onset of World War II caused an increased demand for meat production, but the supply of imported meat proteins was limited. This focused attention on soybean meal as a potential protein supplement.

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Development of processes to toast the soybean meal to denature trypsin inhibitors, along with development of systems to produce vitamins by chemical synthesis and fermentation, allowed for the rapid increase in the demand for soybean meal.

The final factor that allowed for greater use of soybean meal was the discovery of vitamin B12 in 1948. This ended the necessity for the inclusion of animal protein sources in feeds for monogastrics animals.



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