A number of byproducts from the growing biofuel industry could offer poultry producers new cost-effective alternatives to cereals and soya in poultry diets.

Speaking at the recent Agra Informa World Poultry 2008 conference held in London, Athan Katsanos of Kemin Industries highlighted that poultry producers faced new challenges with US wheat prices up nearly 200%. Soya prices have also risen. One of these challenges is seeking alternative feed ingredients, such as glycerol from biodiesel production and distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) from bioethanol production.

Glycerol is very digestible in poultry diets with an energy value higher than wheat at 14.4MJ/kg. It can be used at levels of up to 5-7.5% without any affects on meat quality.

Mr Katsanos outlined a trial with birds fed diets containing 5 and 10% glycerol. Birds showed good performance at the 5% inclusion level with bodyweight weight at 42 days of 2.88kg compared with 2.87 for birds fed the Control diet. However, at 10% production, performance fell off with a lower weight at 42 days of 2.71 kg. Feed conversion and breast meat yield also suffered.

He believes poorer pellet quality and high potassium levels may explain the poor performance at high inclusion levels of glycerol.

Another byproduct is DDGS, “but the challenge here is variability in quality and amino acid digestibility is low, particularly lysine.”

He believes that technology will play a role in overcoming these limitations, such as enzymes. For example, early data shows feed enzymes have same potential in diets containing DDGS, as in traditional wheat based diets.