Department of Animal Science



Date of this Version



The Author(s) 2020.


Journal of Animal Science, 2020, Vol. 98, No. 8, 1–13 doi:10.1093/jas/skaa240


Traditional feed composition tables have been a useful tool in the field of animal nutrition throughout the last 70 yr. The objective of this paper is to discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with creating large feed ingredient composition tables. This manuscript will focus on three topics discussed during the National Animal Nutrition Program (NANP) Symposium in ruminant and nonruminant nutrition carried out at the American Society of Animal Science Annual Meeting in Austin, TX, on July 11, 2019, namely: 1) Using large datasets in feed composition tables and the importance of standard deviation in nutrient composition as well as different methods to obtain accurate standard deviation values, 2) Discussing the importance of fiber in animal nutrition and the evaluation of different methods to estimate fiber content of feeds, and 3) Description of novel feed sources, such as insects, algae, and single-cell protein, and challenges associated with the inclusion of such feeds in feed composition tables. Development of feed composition tables presents important challenges. For instance, large datasets provided by different sources tend to have errors and misclassifications. In addition, data are in different file formats, data structures, and feed classifications. Managing such large databases requires computers with high processing power and software that are also able to run automated procedures to consolidate files, to screen out outlying observations, and to detect misclassified records. Complex algorithms are necessary to identify misclassified samples and outliers aimed to obtain accurate nutrient composition values. Fiber is an important nutrient for both monogastrics and ruminants. Currently, there are several methods available to estimate the fiber content of feeds. However, many of them do not estimate fiber accurately. Total dietary fiber should be used as the standard method to estimate fiber concentrations in feeds. Finally, novel feed sources are a viable option to replace traditional feed sources from a nutritional perspective, but the large variation in nutrient composition among batches makes it difficult to provide reliable nutrient information to be tabulated. Further communication and cooperation among different stakeholders in the animal industry are required to produce reliable data on the nutrient composition to be published in feed composition tables.