Everyone has heard the phrase “you are what you eat”, but mostly it is used when talking about a healthy diet. Few of us know what food the animals whose meat we consume really eat. Here at Cherkizovo Group, Russia’s largest poultry producer, we have decided to let you in on the secret and tell you how we feed chickens on our poultry farms.
A proper chicken diet should include a nutrient mix of amino acids, vitamins, fibres, protein, minerals and fats. Its key ingredients are corn and wheat grains, soybeans, and top quality sunflower oil. Grain accounts for 50–80% of feed and it can differ in content and carbohydrate quality. This is what largely determines the feed's nutritional value for the bird. All of this ultimately benefits the quality and taste of the chicken meat.
At Cherkizovo, we make our own bird feeds from our own feedstock. The feed composition is closely monitored both internally, by the Company's control system, and externally by government oversight agencies. “With 100% of the Company’s feed needs covered by in-house production, we are confident that our birds are fed to the highest standard of safety. Among other things, this helps us deliver food of consistently high quality to our consumers,” says Anastasia Mikhailova, Head of Communications at Cherkizovo Group.
Feed is produced in dry mash and pellet form. Pellet feed is preferable as it is better preserved during transportation, is smaller in size, and contains more nutrients. Besides, in the process of pelleting, feed is disinfected by hot steam and its food energy rises by 4.5%. One pellet contains a full set of feed components and is fully consumed by the chicken, as opposed to mash feed from which the birds first peck grain particles and other large components leaving the finely ground ones untouched. Pellets help save up to 10% of feed.
Over 37 days of a raising cycle, one chicken on average consumes 3.5 kg of feed. In a day, a chicken can eat up to 185 grams of feed at most. Feeding one chicken costs about RUB 7 per day.
Broiler chickens grow faster than other poultry and from day one require complete feeds well balanced in nutrients. Day-old chickens are fed as soon as they are placed in the bird house which is stocked in advance with feed and fresh water. Broilers primarily gain weight by consuming protein and therefore require diets with a high content of complete protein.
Chicken diets at Cherkizovo vary depending on the type of product the birds are raised for. Apart from retailers, our clients include major global fast food chains that have special breeding requirements, including those for poultry diets. For example, one of our clients requires meat from chicken raised exclusively on plant-based feed.