Poultry nutrition requirements

Nutrient Requirement of Poultry

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Poultry diets must be formulated to provide all of the bird's nutrient requirements if optimum growth and production is to be achieved. There are six classes of nutrients:

  1. Carbohydrates - the major source of energy for poultry. Most of the carbohydrate in poultry diets is provided by cereal grains.
  2. Fats - provide energy and essential fatty acids that are required for some body processes.
  3. Proteins - required for the synthesis of body tissue (particularly muscle), physiological molecules (such as enzymes and hormones), feathers and for egg production. Proteins also provide a small amount of energy.
  4. Vitamins - organic chemicals (chemicals containing carbon) which help control body processes and are required in small amounts for normal health and growth.
  5. Minerals - inorganic chemicals (chemicals not containing carbon) which help control body processes and are required for normal health and growth.
  6. Water.

                               Mixed feed pellets

Factors affecting the nutrient requirement of poultry

The nutrient requirements of poultry are affected by a large number of factors, including:  

  • Genetics (the species, breed or strain of bird) - Different species, breeds or strains of bird have different average body sizes, growth rates and production levels and will also absorb and utilise nutrients from feed with different levels of efficiency, leading to different nutrient requirements. As the genetics of commercial poultry is constantly changing, so are their nutrient requirements. Consequently, breeders of commercial poultry provide information on the specific nutrient requirements for the birds they sell.
  • Age - Nutrient requirements are related to both body weight and the stage of maturity.
  • Sex - Prior to sexual maturity the sexes have only small differences in their nutrient requirements and males and females can usually be fed the same compromise diet to achieve acceptable growth rates. Differences in nutrient requirements are larger following the onset of sexual maturity and significantly different diet formulations are then required for each sex.
  • Reproductive state - The level of egg production in hens and sexual activity in males will affect nutrient requirements.
  • Ambient temperature - Poultry have increased energy requirements to maintain normal body temperature in cold ambient temperatures and the opposite in hot ambient temperatures. The process of digestion of food produces body heat and the amount of heat produced will vary according to the nutrient composition of the diet. This is called the heat increment of the diet. In cold temperatures it may be desirable to formulate a diet with a higher heat increment and the opposite in hot temperatures.
  • Housing system - The type of housing system will influence the level of activity of the birds and therefore their energy requirements.
  • Health status - Birds experiencing a disease challenge may benefit from an increase in the intake of some nutrients, most commonly vitamins.
  • Production aims - Optimal nutrient composition of the diet will vary according to production aims, such as optimising weight gain or carcass composition, egg numbers or egg size. Poultry that are raised for breeding purposes may need to have their energy intake restricted to ensure that they do not become obese.

 This interesting article is published courtesy of and with full permission from the Poultry Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), Australia.  

Syed Mahmood Akhter Syed Mahmood Akhter
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
February 24, 2011

Where can I find the latest nutrient requirements of Broilers, breeders and laying birds? Also the charts of nutrient analysis of differents ingredients used in formulating the poultry diet.

Zaib-ur-Rehman Zaib-ur-Rehman
February 24, 2011

Very good article for Nutrient requirements of poultry. They should keep in mind all the above factors during the feed formulation so that maximum production from birds can obtained.

February 24, 2011

Information given in article about Nutrient requirements of poultry is very basic. Need to more focus on specific nutrient requirements with feed formulations .
Dr.Sujit Kulkarni
Orffa Animal Nutrition


February 24, 2011

This is an interesting and informative article about Nutrient requirements of poultry. I wonder if it is possible to get a complete article sent to me.
I believe it could be of assistance to small scale producers who will need to know how to feed and when to feed especially in the current escalating poultry feed prices.

Slumber S. Badubi
Department of Agriculral Research
P.O. Box 151

February 24, 2011

Dear Sir,
Thank you for your article about Nutrient requirements of poultry. Regarding ambient temperature, I would like to ask you about the energy riquirements in hot weather.
Do chickens spend many calories for cooling their internal body temperature by evaporation?
How can chickens compensate the loss of energy?


February 25, 2011

Its a good article about Nutrient requirements of poultry , please can we read it in details.

Arshaq Ramzee Arshaq Ramzee
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
February 26, 2011
This short article is, perhaps, published for under grads or school boys.
Dr. Naseem Chaudhry Dr. Naseem Chaudhry
February 27, 2011

No doubt for balance diet the nutrient requirement plays basic and important role for getting optimum result, 

this article provided complete basic information about Nutrient requirements of poultry. it is good one. 

Naseem Anwar 


Specialist in Animal Nutrition
March 1, 2011

Interesting article about Nutrient requirements of poultry. Some recent Studies Talk about the bird psychology, that will play a major role in feed intake

star Mingan Choct Mingan Choct
Animal Nutritionist
Poultry CRC Poultry CRC
New South Wales, Australia
April 11, 2011
Some of your comments are right that this is a very basic outline of the nutrient requirements for chickens. The reason is that this was published in the Australian Poultry Cooperative Research Centre's public website, www.poultryhub.org, and therefore it intended to cover a wide range of readers, including undergraduate students and village poultry producers. If you visit poultryhub.org then you should be able to find the links to the detailed breeder guides for nutrient requirements.
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