Animal feed is food given to domestic animals, especially livestock, in the course of
animal husbandry Animal husbandry is the branch of agriculture concerned with animals that are raised for meat, animal fiber, fibre, milk, eggs, or other products. It includes day-to-day care, selective breeding and the raising of livestock. Husbandry has a long ...
. There are two basic types: fodder and
forage Forage is a plant material (mainly plant leaves and stems) eaten by grazing livestock. Historically, the term ''forage'' has meant only plants eaten by the animals directly as pasture, crop residue, or immature cereal crops, but it is also used mo ...
. Used alone, the word ''feed'' more often refers to fodder. Animal feed is an important input to animal agriculture, and is frequently the main cost of the raising animals. Farms typically try to reduce cost for this food, by growing their own, grazing animals, or supplementing expensive feeds with substitutes, such as
food waste
food waste
spent grain from beer brewing
spent grain from beer brewing
. Animal wellbeing is highly dependent on feed that reflects a well balanced nutrition. Some modern agricultural practices, such as fattening cows on grains or in feed lots, have detrimental effects on the environment and animals. For example, increased corn or other grain in feed for cows, makes their microbiomes more acidic weakening their immune systems and making cows a more likely vector for E.coli. While other feeding practices can improve animal impacts. For example, feeding cows certain kinds of seaweed, reduces their production of methane, reducing the greenhouse gases from meat production. When an environmental crisis strikes farmers or herders, such as a drought or extreme weather driven by climate change, farmers often have to shift to more expensive manufactured animal feed, which can negatively effect their economic viability. For example, a 2017 drought in Senegal reduced the availability of grazing lands leading to skyrocketing demand and prices for manufactured animal feed, causing prices to skyrocket and farmers to sell large portions of their herds. Additionally agriculture for producing animal feed puts pressure on land use: its a driving factor in
deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical forest ...
, soil degradation, climate change and land use for feed crops uses land that could be used for human food.


"Fodder" refers particularly to foods or forages given to the animals (including plants cut and carried to them), rather than that which they forage for themselves. It includes hay, straw, silage, compressed and pelleted feeds, oils and mixed rations, and sprouted grains and legumes. Feed grains are the most important source of animal feed globally. The amount of grain used to produce the same unit of meat varies substantially. According to an estimate reported by the BBC in 2008, "Cows and sheep need 8 kg of grain for every 1 kg of meat they produce, pigs about 4 kg. The most efficient poultry units need a mere 1.6 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of chicken." Farmed fish can also be fed on grain and use even less than poultry. The two most important feed grains are maize and soybean, and the Agriculture in the United States, United States is by far grain trade, the largest exporter of both, averaging about half of the global maize trade and 40% of the global soya trade in the years leading up the 2012 drought. Other feed grains include wheat, oats, barley, and rice, among many others. Traditional sources of animal feed include Food waste#Animal feed, household food scraps and the byproducts of food processing industries such as milling (grinding), milling and brewing. Material remaining from milling oil crops like Peanut#Animal feed, peanuts, Soybean#Livestock feed, soy, and Maize#Fodder, corn are important sources of fodder. Scraps fed to pigs are called Food waste#Animal feed, slop, and those fed to chicken are called bird food, chicken scratch. Brewer's spent grain is a byproduct of beer making that is widely used as animal feed. Compound feed is fodder that is blended from various raw materials and additives. These blends are formulated according to the specific requirements of the target animal. They are manufactured by feed compounders as ''meal type'', ''pellets'' or ''crumbles''. The main ingredients used in commercially prepared feed are the feed grains, which include maize, corn, soybeans, sorghum, oats, and barley. Compound feed may also include premixes, which may also be sold separately. Premixes are composed of microingredients such as vitamins, minerals, chemical preservatives, Antibiotic use in livestock, antibiotics, fermentation products, and other ingredients that are purchased from premix companies, usually in sacked form, for blending into commercial rations. Because of the availability of these products, farmers who uses their own grain can formulate their own rations and be assured that their animals are getting the recommended levels of minerals and vitamins, although they are still subject to the Veterinary Feed Directive. According to the American Feed Industry Association, as much as $20 billion worth of feed ingredients are purchased each year. These products range from grain mixes to orange rinds and beet pulps. The feed industry is one of the most competitive businesses in the agricultural sector and is by far the largest purchaser of U.S. corn, feed grains, and soybean meal. Tens of thousands of farmers with feed mills on their own farms are able to compete with huge conglomerates with national distribution. Feed crops generated $23.2 billion in cash receipts on U.S. farms in 2001. At the same time, farmers spent a total of $24.5 billion on feed that year. In 2011, around 734.5 million tons of feed were produced annually around the world.


The beginning of industrial-scale production of animal feeds can be traced back to the late 19th century, around the time advances in human and animal nutrition were able to identify the benefits of a balanced Diet (nutrition), diet and the importance of the role processing of certain raw materials played. Corn gluten meal, Corn gluten feed was first manufactured in 1882, while leading world feed producer Purina Mills, Purina Feeds was established in 1894 by William Hollington Danforth. Cargill, which was mainly dealing in grains from its beginnings in 1865, started to deal in feed at about 1884. The feed industry expanded rapidly in the first quarter of the 20th century, with Purina expanding its operations into Canada, and opened its first feed mill in 1927 (which is still in operation). In 1928, the feed industry was revolutionized by the introduction of the first pelleted feeds – Purina Checkers. The US Animal Drug Availability Act 1996, passed during the Bill Clinton, Clinton era, was the first attempt in that country to regulate the use of medicated feed. In 1997, in response to outbreaks of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease, the United States and Canada banned a range of animal tissues from cattle feed. Feed bans in United States (2009) Canada (2007) expanded on this, prohibiting the use of potentially infectious tissue in all animal and pet food and fertilizers.




In agriculture today, the nutritional needs of farm animals are well understood and may be satisfied through natural forage and fodder alone, or augmented by direct supplementation of nutrients in concentrated, controlled form. The nutritional quality of feed is influenced not only by the nutrient content, but also by many other factors such as feed presentation, hygiene, digestibility, and effect on intestinal health. Feed additives provide a mechanism through which these nutrient deficiencies can be resolved effect the rate of growth of such animals and also their health and well-being. Even with all the benefits of higher-quality feed, most of a farm animal's diet still consists of grain-based ingredients because of the higher costs of quality feed.Merck Manual October 2014
Nutritional Requirements of Beef Cattle
Accessed March 18, 2015.
Merck Manual March 2012

Accessed March 18, 2015.
The use of insects as feed, insects in animal feed with certain nutrients such as Coelopa pilipes has also been researched.

Major ingredients




By animal

* Bird feed *Cat food * Cattle feeding * Dog food * Equine nutrition * Fish feed * Pet food * Pig farming * Poultry feed * Sheep husbandry

See also

* Appetein * FEFANA * Hammermill * Pellet mill


External links

Animal feed legislation and guidance

Animal Feed and Ingredients Glossary

Infographic: A look at the global feed production 2012
Animal feed, Animal husbandry Medicated feed