Nutrition down to the last detail
Healthy nutrition for animals can be easily described as ‘a complete diet that covers all the animal’s nutritional needs and guarantees a long, healthy, and happy life’. But it isn’t as simple as that.
A complete diet is often understood as one that fully meets the animal’s nutritional needs without the use of additives or with the use of just one ingredient. At Wisbroek, we use a sustainable yet straightforward method. And it all boils down to variety. Our feeds contain a lengthy list of primary ingredients, meaning birds get a varied source of feed. Wheat is the cheapest source of starch, but it doesn’t provide variety. That’s why we don’t use wheat on its own, but combine it with corn, which contains natural colourings, and rice, which is easy to digest. On top of the primary ingredients, we include vitamins, minerals, and additives. Inorganic minerals are cheap but cannot always be absorbed very well, so our mixes include organic minerals, which are better for animals.
All the animal’s nutritional needs must be covered. Many feeds are based on a certain protein and fat content, when in reality birds require very little protein and fat. Instead, they need the amino acids that protein is made from and the energy released from the fat. With this in mind, Wisbroek has incorporated the concept of ‘protein sparing’ into its feeds. This means saving protein by burning more fat instead of protein, which helps to provide the energy that birds need. The protein spared then makes a great source of amino acid that birds need to maintain muscle tissue, to shed their feathers, to lay eggs, and to stay healthy.
Ultimately this helps birds to live a longer, healthier, and happier life. So, a feed needs to be healthy, it must be easy to digest, and – of course – it has to be tasty. One of the more important methods that we use to accomplish this is the extrusion process. After grinding and mixing the ingredients, they are put under pressure in a large tube with a rotating screw, water is added, and the temperature is increased to 120°C. When the meal is pressed out of the tube, known as an extruder, it bursts open due to the drop in pressure. The process is similar to when a corn grain pops open because the skin of the grain is no longer able to maintain the pressure. Bursting open, or expanding, increases the taste – imagine getting a bag of corn kernels instead of popcorn at the cinema! It also makes it easier to digest, which is the same reason why we cook potatoes; plus, the heat kills all the bad bacteria and mould. But because it is only heated for such a short period of time and the meal is protected by the water, there is virtually no loss of nutrients.
Hopefully this helps to clarify what healthy nutrition for animals means to us here at Wisbroek and why it makes sense to make our feeds in the way that we do.
Ben Lamberigts – Nutritionist Wisbroek