The Need to Explore Cheaper Local Alternative Feed Ingredients In Formulating Least Cost Diets

Rising prices of major feed ingredients like Maize, Fish Meal and Soya beans plus dangers associated with aflatoxin complications in use of groundnut cake, have driven many farm business owners to explore alternative feed ingredients.

But in doing so, they also have to enter uncharted territory. Locally available ingredients which are often cheaper, typically tend to be less well documented in terms of their value to animals . Farmers often have to settle for “typical values” from published reports, or send samples to the laboratory.

Different feed formulation methods exist, such as linear programming, Pearson square, and stochastic programming.

The farmer’s choice of method must be guided by the purpose of the diet s/he aims to formulate. For instance, catfish and poultry have amino acid needs that vary greatly from that of pigs.

The farmer will have to take that into account in formulating his/her rations. But that can be a tasking process!

Low Cost Automated Feed Formulation is Needed

Software automation can make that process less tasking, and more reliable in terms of accuracy.

But feed formulation software tend to be pricey (See email excerpt).

In addition, some – due to legal requirements – limit ingredients types usable (see sidebar) .

That’s why more farmers now adopt manual Excel forms developed by researchers/extension specialists.

The Threat of Avoidable Feed Formulation Errors

But using MS Excel manually for a serious (and sensitive) task like feed formulation requires sound Excel user skills .

Unfortunately, many users often assume they know enough. That mental attitude sometimes lead to avoidable errors, that are hard to detect – with potentially costly consequences in the case of a farm business.

One Example:

A client’s secretary placed a file on the PC keyboard, to answer the phone. A formula cell in the spreadsheet she was working on got overwritten in the process, with a value that coincidentally looked real.

The error went unnoticed until the next week, when her boss asked why the new total was exactly the same, despite a totally different expense profile. This can happen to a farm based user too!

Rejuvenation of smallholder farming in developing economies depends greatly on empowering all stakeholders.

This will involve helping them entrench continuous improvement and best practice systems based primarily on indigenous knowledge systems they discover, and successfully implement.

Firm management of expenses is crucial to profit making in any business – including farming. For livestock farmers, feeding expenses constitute the greatest concern.

That’s why working towards least cost ration formulation, by exploring low cost alternative ingredients, is critical. It cannot be done haphazardly – otherwise, costly mistakes could result.

PC based automation can be used to cost-effectively derive accurate ration formulas.

Laudable efforts have been made by extension specialists, to develop flexible MS Excel based feed formulation resources for farmers.

It must however be noted that farmers need more time/effort saving, and robust error-resistant solutions, to derive ration formulas that yield profitable performance.

The customizable Excel-VB driven Ration Formulator™ (that I sell along with my popular Feed Formulation Handbook) is presented as an example of what is possible in the International Agribusiness paper I got paid to write in 2013 – from which THIS article was excerpted.

Image: [Annotated] Cover of Agribusiness Research Paper I got paid to write in December 2013 by a European Union funded NGO based in Holland. It's titled 'Adoption of PC-Based Feed Formulation Methods by Farmers, Feed Manufacturers and Extension Professionals, in South West Nigeria.'

[IMPORTANT: This blog’s contents are being updated following the transfer to from my former domain – As a result, some parts of it may not work properly for now. Quick Tip: If a link contains “”, simply change it to “” – and it should work. This applies to article links as well as image links. Work continues to update the links(in over 500 articles). Tayo K. Solagbade.]

Practical Livestock Feed Formulation Handbook

Available as a PDF ebook, and also as a spiral bound print manual (from me). Click here for details.

You can also get it as an PDF ebook via my online store.

Screenshot of ebook in online store

$82.5 USD to buy it from my online store (PDF download)

N8,000.00 [Eight Thousand Naira] for persons who wish to send payment direct to my bank account.

Payment of N50,000.00 gets you the physical handbook and software on CD with videos etc, PLUS practical one-on-one, in person training with me at a feed mill in Lagos, Nigeria.

Click here to contact me about purchasing this product.

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Tayo K. Solagbade*
Performance Improvement Specialist & Multipreneur
*Best Practice Farm Business Support Specialist
& Founder of the MS Excel Heaven Visual Basic Automation Club & Competition(



Excel-VB Driven Ration Formulator

Click to view larger screenshot

1. Click here to learn more about this app – watch demo videos etc

2. Click here to watch a 4 part video in which I demonstrate how to use this app to formulate rations using real life data sent to me by an Algerian PhD student.

Click here to contact me about purchasing this product.


Click here to download a detailed PDF user guide and watch 15 screen shot user guide tutorials of the Monthly Poultry Farm Manager that I now offer Farm CEOs.

Click here to watch a screenshot demonstration of the Excel-VB Driven Poultry Farm Manager I built for a client farm business in Ekiti state, South West Nigeria.

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