Finding cheap sources of feed is always a constant battle for farmers, especially as feed prices continue to rise. Some farmers in the US have long been feeding poultry urea to their animals and believe it or not it actually is helping improve profits!
Firstly, Urea (Or chicken faeces) is a non-protein nitrogen compound, though it can actually be converted into very useful proteins!
Research has been carried out by Penn State University recently and they say the majority of urea contains about 45% nitrogen.They say that protein contains 16% nitrogen and found that urea could have the potential for crude protein value of 281%.
How can this be?
Ruminant animals, cattle and sheep, have the ability to convert urea into protein, by producing ammonia and Carbon Dioxide. This is done by the microbes in the rumen of livestock. The ammonia can be released in two ways from urea, firstly during the production of microbial protein and then in the liver.
Urea on its own is not a substantial feed source for cattle, though, if combined with many other feeds, it is a brilliant source of protein.
There are many precautions to take before considering feeding this to your stock. First, your cattle might not even like the taste, as they are fussy animals. Secondly, there are a number of health risks, connected to overfeeding.
Therefore no animal should be receiving feed with any more than one-third of the ration containing urea. The mixed ration should also be fed once in the morning, and again in the evening. This helps prevent ammonia overloading.
When mixing the ration, it is best to not run too close to the one third ratio mark and it is advised to weigh out every addition precisely. Any urea added should be mixed well into the other feeds.
Feed containing urea should be gradually introduced into an animal's diet. The more gradual the introduction the better, as cattle can usually have low weight gains, after its initial introduction.
It may not be a perfect choice, but farmers in the US are reaping the rewards of giving their stock, this low-cost, often free, feed additive. Your getting potential protein, while poultry farmers and producers and getting rid of waste free of charge! Who knew chicken poo could be the key to saving farmers money?