The nutritional components of faba bean are summarised in Table 1. Grain legumes are used in livestock feed primarily for their protein content. Faba bean with 12% moisture is about 26% protein. In addition to crude protein, faba bean is high in carbohydrate, especially starch, contributing to the metabolisable energy. The nutrient content of faba bean is influenced by growing condition and the cultivar used.
The protein digestibility and amino acid profile are the major determinants of the feeding value. The protein is highly digestible. On the amino acid profile side, faba bean is rich in lysine, but relatively low in methionine and cystine. The limiting factor for the use of faba bean in poultry rations is the low content of methionine.
The mineral contents are similar to that of cereals. Faba bean contains less phosphorus than soy and rapeseed meal. The phosphorus is partially bound to phytic acid which reduces phosphorus absorption without the addition of the enzyme phytase.
Anti nutritional factors
Anti-nutritional components adversely affect digestion and animal health. Vicine/convicine and tannins are the most important antinutritive substances in faba bean, followed by protease inhibitors, lectins and saponins.
For poultry feed, only low vicine/convicine faba bean cultivars should be used. Using standard vicine/convicine containing cultivars, there is a decline in performance when inclusion rates exceed 10%.
In addition, tannins found in the seed coat of dark seeds from dark flowering cultivars reduce food intake due to their bitter taste. Cultivars containing tannins are easily recognisable by their purple flowers, but also by a black spot on the stipules and a darker grain colour. Tanninrelated effects on protein digestibility and enzyme binding play a role only at high inclusion rates (>20%).
Other anti-nutritive ingredients such as protease inhibitors, lectins and saponins are present in only small amounts in faba bean and have no adverse effects at typical rates of inclusion.
The feeding value depends on the quantity of protein, the nutritional quality of that protein, and the energy feed values determined by the digestibility of the nutrients. Protein quality in poultry nutrition is characterised by the content of the most important essential amino acids, namely lysine, methionine and cysteine, threonine and tryptophan. The digestibility of the amino acids is also important, which varies both, between amino acids and between different grain legumes (Table 2).
Maximum rate of inclusion of faba bean in poultry feed
The quantities used depend on age and performance phase of the poultry. The use of faba bean for poultry is limited by the methionine content (Figure 2). But the levels of vicine/convicine of cultivars also limit use to maximum 10% in feed ration (Table 3). Nevertheless, the methionine content of field bean is more than 20% higher than that of most cereals. This means that faba bean can be used to replace other protein-rich components, e.g., oilseed meals and corn gluten, and synthetic amino acids. A higher proportion of own or domestic raw materials can be used.
Bellof, G., Halle, I. and Rodehutscord, M., 2016. Ackerbohnen, Futtererbsen und Blaue Süßlupinen in der Geflügelfütterung. UFOP Praxisinformation.
Jeroch, H., Lipiec, A., Abel, H., Zentek, J., Grela, E., Bellof, G., 2016. Körnerleguminosen als Futter und Nahrungsmittel. DLG-Verlag, Frankfurt.
- Landesbetrieb Landwirtschaft Hessen
This practice note provides an overview of the components and feed value of faba bean. Faba bean (Vicia faba L.), also called field bean, is rich in protein and energy. The high content of lysine means faba bean complements cereals in feed. Faba bean can replace or supplement soy. The feed value of faba bean for poultry is determined by the metabolisable energy and the digestibility of the amino acids in the protein. Cultivars such as Tiffany that have low levels of vicine-convicine can be included up to 20% of the ration. Cultivars that are also low in tannin (white flowering cultivars such as Bianca) can be included at rates above 20%. For using faba bean on-farm, the feed value must be determined for each batch so that the use can be targeted.
Faba bean can be sold into the compound feed industry. On-farm use often gives the grower a higher return than from selling to the trade. Domestic grain legumes are an important component of GMO-free feed rations.
Bayerische Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft, 2012. Heimische Eiweißfuttermittel in der Schweine- und Geflügelfütterung. LfL, Freising.
Bellof, G., Halle, I., Rodehutscord, M., 2016. Ackerbohnen, Futtererbsen und Blaue Süßlupinen in der Geflügelfütterung. UFOP-Praxisinformation.
Bellof, G., Aulrich, K., Weiß, J., 2013. Körnerleguminosen in der Fütterung. Kuratorium für Technik, Bauwesen und Landwirtschaft Heft 100. http://www.ktbl.de/shop/produktkatalog/40100/
Feedipedia. Animal feed sources information system, website: http://www.feedipedia.org
Jeroch, H., Lipiec, A., Abel, H., Zentek, J., Grela, E., Bellof, G., 2016. Körnerleguminosen als Futter- und Nahrungsmittel. DLG-Verlag, Frankfurt.
Nolte, T., Jansen, S., Weigend, S., Moerlein, D., Halle, I., Link, W., Hummel, J., Simianer, H., Sharifi, R., 2020. Growth Performance of Local Chicken Breeds, a High-Performance Genotype and Their Crosses Fed with Regional Faba Beans to Replace Soy. Animals 2020, 10, 702.
Vogt-Kaute, W., 2016 Fütterung von Geflügel mit Ackerbohnen. Demonstrationsnetzwerk Erbse/Bohne. http://www.demoneterbo.agrarpraxisforschung.de/index.php?id=116
Weindl, P. and Bellof, G., 2016. Einsatz regionaler Eiweißfuttermittel als Ersatz für importiertes Sojaextraktionsschrot. Feed Magazine, Kraftfutter, 3–4.
Table 1. Nutritional components of faba bean and pea compared to soybean meal
Table 2. Digestibility of selected amino acids in pea, faba bean and soybean meal
Table 3. Maximum inclusion rates of faba bean in different feed types as affected by bean type. This only applies to the low vicine types.
faba bean in the field
Photograph: Thorsten Haase, LLH
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Feeding quality of faba bean for poultry
2021. Feeding quality of faba bean for poultry. Legume Hub. https://www.legumehub.eu
Quendt, U., 2021. Feeding quality of faba bean for poultry. Legume Hub. https://www.legumehub.eu