This term is, in general, synonymous with feeding, food or fodder, although in broader terms of all material included in the diet because of nutritional properties. It embraces not only the naturally occurring plant or animal products and the by-products, but also chemically synthesised or manufactured pure nutrients or prepared mixtures used as supplements to natural foods.


A ration is a 24-hour allowance of feed or a mixture of feed to make up the diet of an animal. This term does not imply that the allowance is adequate in quantity or kind to meet the nutritional needs of the animal.

Some confusion normally arises as to the meaning of the words RATION and DIET. These can be explained as follows:


The daily allowance of food for one person, i.e. a soldier, or one animal, i.e. a steer.


This is what the person or animal usually eats and drinks.


This refers to a feed mixture which is just sufficient to meet the requirements of a specific animal over a 24-hour period. The balance referred to is the proportion of carbohydrate, fat and protein in the ration.


This is a ration which would allow the animal only enough to stay in the initial condition, i.e. to support life with no product, no gain, and no loss in body substance. The minimum required to keep the animal alive.


Nutritionally, basal feeds are primarily concentrated sources of energy, especially rich in starches and sugars. They include the whole group of grains and their by-products, which protein content is less than 16% and whose maximum fibre content is 16%. The main difference between basal feeds, which is of significance in their practical use, lies in the digestible energy content, which in turn is likely to be in proportion to their crude fibre content. Feeds of this category make up 60% – 90% of all  rations.


Feeds of this type are concentrated sources of protein, minerals and vitamins. A mixed protein supplement is, conventionally, a mixture of feeds which carries 30% or more protein. Single feeds containing 20% or more protein are included in this group.


Technically, all feeds supplying nutrients, (protein, carbohydrates and fats), are classed as concentrates it their crude fibre content does not exceed 18%.

In the feed trade, this term has been used to indicate commercially produced supplements.


In farm usage, roughage is normally considered to be material making up fodder such as hay, silage, pastures, etc. The distinguishing characteristic of roughage is usually a high fibre content. For hay, this frequently runs between 25% – 30% of the dry matter.


This is a manufacturer’s term for a ration or feed mixture in which all of the ingredients are ground. Mash is a name often used in referring to poultry rations rather than livestock rations. For livestock, the term Meal is preferred.

      Groats: hulled or crushed grain, especially oats.   Perforated: pierce and make a hole or holes in. FLAKES:

Unground grains or groats from grains are sometimes prepared for feeding by crushing or rollering. The product so treated may be referred to as rolled or flaked.


Feedstuffs, after grinding and moistening, may be forced under pressure through perforated discs. As the strings of  material come through the holes they are cut off into short lengths; these particles are called pellets.


These are simply pellets which have been crushed and sifted to obtain a uniform size of particle. They are mainly used for feeding baby chicks.


Any food constituent or group of food constituents of the same general chemical composition, which aids in the support of animal life. However, this is the traditional definition – we must also include substances of non-food origin. Foods are parcels of nutrients and, if mixed with non-nutrient ingredients become a ration.


At first this may seem to be a strange term to use in connection with the consideration of nutrients, or even with feedstuff. However, there are substances which when used at certain levels are harmful enough to be classed as toxic, i.e. urea – this will be dealt with later.

Do not confuse such substances with poison


The amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 gram or water through 1⁰ Centigrade.  This is expressed in the new way – 4,152J (joule)

1 Joule = 0.24 calories

Kilocalorie = 1 000 calories (103)

Megacalorie = 106 calories = 1 Thermal (106 = 1 million) Kilojoule = 4.15 kilocalories

The measurement of heat is no longer expressed in calories. The modern international unit of measurement is the joule.


This is an approximate measurement of the amount of food which has been absorbed by the animal.

Figure 1: Absorption through the Intestine

Therefore percentage Digestibility=(Amount in feed – Amount in faeces) x 100 Amount in Feed