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Blood meal


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Common names 

Blood meal, blood flour, fresh blood [English]; farine de sang, sang frais [French]; harina de sangre [Spanish]; Bloedmeel [Dutch]; Blutmehl [German]; الدم المجفف [Arabic]; 혈분 [Korean]; Кровяная мука [Russian]

Related feed(s) 

Blood can be collected during the slaughter of various livestock species (cattle, pigs, chickens, etc.) under a wide range of conditions. It is usually dried and made into blood meal so that it can be handled and incorporated into rations more easily. Other feed products derived from blood include fresh blood, hemoglobin and plasma. Blood meal contains mostly protein and is used to supplement diets based on cereal grains, plant by-products and forages. It has been shown to be a satisfactory replacement for other protein sources in various animal production diets for dairy cattle, beef cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry, various fish species and silkworms. However blood meal is not very palatable and its amino acid content is imbalanced (see Nutritional attributes on the "Nutritional aspects" tab). It is not advisable to include high rates of blood meal in livestock diets.


Blood meal is available worldwide, but like other animal products its sale and utilization are regulated in some countries for certain species for safety reasons (see Potential constraints on the "Nutritional aspects" tab).


Blood is a highly perishable product and must be processed as soon as possible after slaughter. Blood meal can be prepared by a small-scale operation. Blood meal is hydroscopic and needs to be dried to less than 10-12% moisture and stored in a dry place in order for it not to deteriorate. There are different ways to prepare blood meal: solar drying, oven drying, drum drying, flash drying, spray drying. The drying method is important because there is an inverse relationship between the amount of heat applied and protein digestibility. Particularly, lysine content and lysine availability decrease when the amount of heat increases (Batterham et al., 1986). Overcooked blood meals are darker, due to the destruction of the haemoglobin, and less palatable.

Solar and oven drying

Solar drying is well suited for small-scale operations or when advanced technical equipment is not affordable. Blood is collected in large pans and slowly boiled while stirring constantly. When moisture is sufficiently reduced (10-12%), blood meal is spread on a clean cemented surface and then sun-dried. It can also be oven-dried. The blood may be spread on milling offals, rice bran or other plant products for better drying and that results in a complete feed. 

For large scale operations the 3 processes detailed below are used.

Drum drying

The raw blood is finely comminuted to form a free-flowing slurry that is then deposited onto the descending side of the top of a heated drier drum and formed into a film by one or more spreader rolls. The film is rapidly dried and scraped in the form of a dried sheet which can either be flaked or pulverized to provide a high grade blood meal product. Vapors above the drying cylinder are scrubbed before being released to the atmosphere and represent the only effluents from the process (Overton, 1976).

Ring and flash drying

The blood is dispersed into the high velocity venturi section of the system. The blood first comes into contact with the hot drying airstream and the bulk of the evaporation occurs. The product is then dried as it is conveyed up through the drying column. The presence of a "manifold" or "internal classifier" in the ring drying system is what differentiates it from the flash dryer (GEA, 2009a; GEA, 2009b).

Spray drying

The blood is spray dried as whole blood, or after separation into plasma and red albumin (GEA, 2010). Blood products have to be dried at low temperatures in order to prevent heat coagulation (GEA, 2009a; GEA, 2009b). Spray dried blood meals are also called spray dried blood powder or blood flour (Dipanjali Konwar et al., 2005).

Spray-dried porcine plasma is prepared as follows: the blood from slaughtered pigs is added to an anticoagulant (generally sodium citrate) and then centrifuged to remove erythrocytes. The plasma obtained is subsequently spray-dried and used for the production of animal feeds (van Dijk et al., 2001).

Products resulting from the 3 processes have an overall higher quality than sun-dried blood meals since the duration of the heating period is lower than with cooking. Proteins and amino acids are better preserved and lysine content is higher (Cromwell, 2009).


Blood can be coagulated to aid in the removal of water by adding 1% unslaked or 3% slaked lime. However, this method of water removal increases the amount of dry matter losses by 10-15%, which includes many of the minerals. 

In some situations, blood needs to be stored prior to being processed and dried. Raw blood can be stabilized and stored for one week by adding 0.7% sulphuric acid or an equivalent amount of another acid. A method for preparing blood meal by adding 3% sulphuric acid and storing for 72 h before sun-drying has been described (Divakaran, 1987; Divakaran et al., 1988).

Environmental impact 

Processing blood into feed removes potentially contaminating slaughter wastes from the environment. Modern drying techniques require high amounts of energy but solar drying is an interesting option in warm climates.

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Blood meal contains mostly protein (about 90-95% DM) and small amounts of fat (less than 1% DM) and ash (less than 5% DM), though non-industrial blood meals may include other materials and thus be richer in ash. Unlike other animal protein sources, blood meal has a poor amino acid balance. Its lysine content is relatively high (7-10% DM) which makes it an excellent supplementary protein to use with plant-derived feed ingredients that are low in lysine. However, its isoleucine content is very low (about 1% DM), so diets for monogastric animals must be formulated to contain enough isoleucine for the level of performance desired (Piepenbrink et al., 1998; Maiga et al., 1996). Pepsin digestibility has been shown to be a good test for assessing the availability of the protein fraction of blood meal (Hegedüs et al., 1989). Blood meal is rich in iron (more than 1500 mg/kg DM).

Blood meal is generally unpalatable, particularly if overcooked, so care needs to be taken to not add more than 5 to 6% blood meal to a ration, especially if high feed consumption and performance are desired. Often an adaptation period is required to get animals used to eating blood meal. 

Potential constraints 

For safety reasons, blood must be heated to be used in animal feeding: a minimal temperature of 100°C for 15 min is necessary in order to destroy potentials pathogens (salmonella, mycotoxins, prions) (Göhl, 1982). It is recommended to avoid feeding a species with blood meal from the same species.

In the European Union, blood meal has been banned from feeding to animals since 2000 (Council Decision 2000/766/EC), though since 2006 blood products from non-ruminants are now authorized for use in aquaculture (Médale et al., 2009).


Blood meal is valuable for ruminants due to its high protein content and rumen-resistant amino acids. Rumen undegradable protein is up to 78% in blood meal and increases with the heating temperature used in its processing. Blood meal contains more essential amino acids than soybean meal (Klemesrud et al., 2000; Piepenbrink et al., 1998), but it is deficient in sulphur-containing amino acids (Klemesrud et al., 2000) and isoleucine (Maiga et al., 1996). It should be supplemented with other protein sources (Maiga et al., 1996).


In steers and in calves, 3% dietary inclusion of blood meal increased daily weight gain, dry matter intake and energy intake (Knaus et al., 1998Tartari et al., 1989). In dairy cows, it improved milk production and milk protein yield (Schor et al., 2001).


In sheep, blood meal can be used as a by-pass protein (Kamalak et al., 2005), which allows a reduction in the overall dietary protein content of the diet (from 16-18% to 13%) (Antongiovanni et al., 1998). The nutritional status of pregnant ewes fed at or near maintenance while consuming low-quality roughages was enhanced by supplementation with additional crude protein in the form of blood meal (Hoaglund et al., 1992).


Blood meal is a good source of protein in pigs. Recommended dietary levels vary from 4% of DM (Cunha, 1977; Wahlstrom et al., 1977) to 6-8% of DM (Seerley, 1991 cited by Lewis et al., 2001).


During post-weaning phase I (day 0-14), dry skimmed milk can be replaced by animal by-products, such as porcine blood meal, porcine plasma, extracted meat protein, bovine plasma protein, spray-dried blood meal or soybean protein concentrate. Spray-dried porcine plasma (SDPP) is superior to every other protein sources (Hansen et al., 1991; Tokach et al., 1991; Rantanen et al., 1994). Recommended inclusion rate is 7.5% spray-dried plasma (Bergstrom et al., 1994; Owen et al., 1994). However, spray-dried blood meal at 2.5% of the dietary DM could replace 67% of spray-dried plasma from day 7 to 14 (Kats et al., 1992b; Dritz et al., 1993).

During post-weaning phase II (day 14-28), spray-dried blood meal will be preferred to SDPP or fish by-products as it increases both animal performance (Tokach et al., 1991) and economic performance (Kats et al., 1992a; Dritz et al., 1992). Inclusion rates should be no more than 2-2.5% of DM (Kats et al., 1992a; Kats et al., 1992b).

During post-weaning phase III (day 28-42), spray-dried blood meal can be included at 2-2.5% of DM and supplemented with 0.4-0.44% methionine (Owen et al., 1993).

Growing pigs

In growing pigs, blood meal can partially replace soybean meal in maize-soybean based diets: it is then included at 3 to 4% of DM (flash dried blood meal) or at 6% (Ilori et al., 1984; Rerat et al., 1975). It can supplement cottonseed meal to counterbalance the negative effects of gossypol in pig diets (Fombad et al., 2004).

Feeding growing pigs with fermented blood meal (dried or not) in combination with molasses allows the same feed intake, growth and feed conversion efficiency as soybean meal. Utilization of N is also high (M'ncene et al., 1999; King'ori et al., 1998). A 10% fermented blood meal inclusion in pig diets is recommended (Tuitoek et al., 1992).


Blood meal can be used successfully in poultry diets.


For broilers, blood meal is a good protein source. It can replace 50 to 100% of fish meal (Rao et al., 2009; Seifdavati et al., 2008; Nabizadeh et al., 2005), 50% of soybean meal (Onyimonyi et al., 2007; Tyus et al., 2008), and also copra meal or groundnut meal (Donkoh et al., 2001; Donkoh et al., 1999) resulting in improved performance and greater profit. The amounts of blood meal are equivalent to 3 to 9% of the dietary DM (Tabinda Khawaja et al., 2007; Matserushka, 1996; Quarantelli et al., 1987).

Blood meal has a high tryptophan digestibility coefficient which is valuable as tryptophan is the third limiting amino acid in broilers (Ravindran et al., 2006). It is necessary to supplement blood meal with lysine and isoleucine (Elamin et al., 1990; Tyus et al., 2008) to ensure better animal performance.

Laying hens

In laying hens, blood meal is as palatable as other rendered animal products. Sun-dried blood meal given at 4.5% of the diet has a positive effect on layer performance (feed intake, live-weight gain, egg weight and yolk colour) (Donkoh et al., 2001). Blood meal improves Fe content in yolks (Revell et al., 2009). One case of cannibalism related to blood meal feeding has been reported (Atteh et al., 1993).

Fermented cattle blood gives comparable egg production to fish meal when these products are used to replace soybean meal. However, rendered animal products can cause undesirable flavour in eggs and it is not recommended that they fully replace soybean meal in layers diets (Tuitoek et al., 1994).


Feeding turkeys with rendered animal products does not alter performance (Boling et al., 1997).


Combining blood meal with other supplementary proteins has been shown to increase performance in ducks (Sucheep Suksupath, 1980).


Rabbits fed on blood meal had the lowest feed intake, live weight gain and feed efficiency compared to other protein sources such as fish meal, shrimp meal, hatchery by-product meal or poultry by-product meal (Fanimo et al., 2002).


Blood meal is a good quality ingredient for fish and has been tested succesfully in many fish species. Spray-dried blood meal can be used as a binder in fish feeds.

In gibel carp (Carassius auratus gibelio) (Yang et al., 2004), African catfish (Clarias gariepinus) (Goda et al., 2007) and tilapia, spray-dried blood meal can replace 50 to 75% of the fish meal, and in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) up to 100% (Watanabe et al., 1998; Médale et al., 2009). However, it was found to lower performance in tilapia when replacing fish meal (El-Sayed, 1998). Blood meal is well digested by the humpback grouper (Cromileptes altivelis) (Laining et al., 2003) and its gross energy is well digested by the rohu (Labeo rohita) (Noreen et al., 2008). A maximum of 5% blood meal in the diet is recommended for sea bream (Sparus aurata) as sensorial alterations may occur at a 10% inclusion rate (Martinez-Llorens et al., 2008).

Other species 

Silkworm (Bombyx mori)

When included in articifial diets for silkworms, blood meal effectively increased the quantity of cocoon shells though it was a less suitable source of protein than soybean meal in terms of palatability and digestibility. Poultry feed mixed with blood meal was an economically viable concentrate diet for silkworms (Matsura, 1994aMatsura, 1994b).

Nutritional tables

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 93.8 2.6 87.5 98.5 124  
Crude protein % DM 94.1 3.9 84.9 100.0 142  
Crude fibre % DM 0.5 0.4 0.1 1.5 18  
NDF % DM 12.8       1  
Ether extract % DM 0.8 0.7 0.1 3.1 25  
Ether extract, HCl hydrolysis % DM 1.8 1.5 0.3 7.8 42  
Ash % DM 3.0 1.5 1.6 7.3 116  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 24.1 2.2 17.7 24.9 14 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 1.3 1.0 0.3 4.5 44  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.2 0.9 0.8 3.9 51  
Potassium g/kg DM 3.8 3.4 1.8 10.5 7  
Sodium g/kg DM 4.5 2.2 2.1 9.4 11  
Magnesium g/kg DM 0.2 0.0 0.2 0.2 7  
Manganese mg/kg DM 1       1  
Zinc mg/kg DM 24 2 21 27 8  
Copper mg/kg DM 6 0 5 6 5  
Iron mg/kg DM 2186 298 1459 2732 22  
Amino acids Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Alanine % protein 7.9 0.4 6.7 8.7 23  
Arginine % protein 4.2 0.3 3.5 4.7 31  
Aspartic acid % protein 10.7 0.7 9.8 12.1 22  
Cystine % protein 1.1 0.2 0.7 1.4 26  
Glutamic acid % protein 9.5 0.4 8.8 10.2 22  
Glycine % protein 4.5 0.4 4.0 5.6 25  
Histidine % protein 6.2 1.0 4.9 8.4 31  
Isoleucine % protein 1.1 0.4 0.6 2.0 49  
Leucine % protein 12.1 1.0 10.1 13.9 49  
Lysine % protein 8.7 0.7 7.1 10.3 54  
Methionine % protein 1.2 0.2 0.9 1.5 31  
Phenylalanine % protein 6.9 0.5 6.0 8.0 30  
Proline % protein 4.0 0.4 3.4 4.7 13  
Serine % protein 4.9 0.4 4.4 5.6 23  
Threonine % protein 4.7 0.4 3.8 5.6 49  
Tryptophan % protein 1.4 0.4 1.0 2.1 10  
Tyrosine % protein 3.0 0.5 2.2 4.1 16  
Valine % protein 8.5 0.7 7.4 9.7 31  
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 74.7       1  
a (N) % 22.5       1  
b (N) % 44.1       1  
c (N) h-1 0.050       1  
Nitrogen degradability (effective, k=4%) % 47         *
Nitrogen degradability (effective, k=6%) % 43   40 43 2 *
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 89.3         *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 21.5         *
Nitrogen digestibility, growing pig % 90.7 2.9 89.0 94.0 3  
Poultry nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
AMEn cockerel MJ/kg DM 13.5 0.8 12.1 14.2 6 *
AMEn broiler MJ/kg DM 13.5         *
Fish nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Energy digestibility, salmonids % 60.4   31.9 89.0 2  
Nitrogen digestibility, salmonids % 62.2   29.4 95.0 2  

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


ADAS, 1988; AFZ, 2011; Cirad, 2008; De Vuyst et al., 1964; Dewar, 1967; Donkoh et al., 2009; Dust et al., 2005; El-Sayed, 1998; Erasmus et al., 1994; Hajen et al., 1993; Howie et al., 1996; Huston et al., 1971; Kamalak et al., 2005; Kerr et al., 2000; King et al., 1978; Knabe et al., 1989; Knaus et al., 1998; Laining et al., 2004; Lechevestrier, 1996; Madsen et al., 1984; Marichal et al., 2000; Mariscal Landin, 1992; Masoero et al., 1994; Moughan et al., 1999; Nadeem et al., 2005; Nengas et al., 1995; Oluyemi et al., 1976; Oyenuga, 1968; Palmquist et al., 1994; Pion, 1970; Pozy et al., 1996; Qiao ShiYan et al., 2004

Last updated on 29/11/2012 11:39:20

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 89.3       1  
Crude protein % DM 83.7       1  
Ether extract % DM 0.5       1  
Ash % DM 12.2       1  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 21.6       1  

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Maliboungou et al., 1998

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:16

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 19.1 17.9 20.2 2
Crude protein % DM 93.8 91.8 95.7 2
Crude fibre % DM 0.0 1
Ether extract % DM 1.3 0.2 2.3 2
Ash % DM 5.0 4.1 5.9 2
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 8.9 1
Phosphorus g/kg DM 4.1 2.5 5.6 2
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 90.1 *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Obradovic, 1969

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:16

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 75.3       1  
Crude protein % DM 86.6       1  
Crude fibre % DM 2.3       1  
Ether extract % DM 4.3       1  
Ash % DM 10.9       1  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 27.7       1  
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 7.2       1  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 4.0       1  
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 86.6         *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 24.0         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Seifdavati et al., 2008

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:16

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 96.5 96.5 96.5 2
Crude protein % DM 89.1 87.8 90.4 2
Crude fibre % DM 3.7 2.8 4.7 2
Ether extract % DM 0.2 0.2 0.2 2
Ash % DM 3.4 3.2 3.5 2
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 22.6 22.1 23.1 2
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 84.2 *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 19.1 *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Laining et al., 2004

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:16

Amino acids Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Arginine % protein 6.2       1  
Cystine % protein 1.1       1  
Glycine % protein 4.3       1  
Histidine % protein 4.9       1  
Isoleucine % protein 4.6       1  
Leucine % protein 10.5       1  
Lysine % protein 8.0       1  
Methionine % protein 2.0       1  
Phenylalanine % protein 5.7       1  
Threonine % protein 4.7       1  
Tryptophan % protein 1.1       1  
Tyrosine % protein 2.8       1  
Valine % protein 6.8       1  

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


De Vuyst et al., 1964

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:48

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 17.9       1  
Crude protein % DM 91.8       1  
Crude fibre % DM 0.0       1  
Ether extract % DM 2.3       1  
Ash % DM 5.9       1  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 22.4         *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 5.6       1  
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 90.1         *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 20.2         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Obradovic, 1969

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:48

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., 2016. Blood meal. Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/221 Last updated on March 31, 2016, 10:31

English correction by Tim Smith (Animal Science consultant) and Hélène Thiollet (AFZ)
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