The apparent ileal digestibility coefficients of amino acids in 107 samples representing 22 food ingredients were determined using 6-week-old broiler chickens. The ingredients assayed included five cereals (barley, maize, sorghum, triticale and wheat), two cereal by-products (rice polishings and wheat middlings), four oilseed meals (canola, cottonseed, soya-bean and sunflower meals), full-fat canola, maize gluten meal, four grain legumes (chickpeas, faba beans, field peas and lupins) and five animal protein sources (blood, feather, fish, meat and meat and bone meals). The mean ileal digestibility coefficients of amino acids in wheat and maize were higher than those in sorghum, triticale and barley. However, variations observed in individual amino acid digestibilities among samples within cereal type were greater than those determined between cereals. Threonine and lysine were the least digestible indispensable amino acids in the five cereals evaluated. The most digestible indispensable amino acid was phenylalanine in wheat and, leucine in maize and sorghum. In the case of the wheat middlings and rice polishings, threonine was the least digestible indispensable amino acid and arginine was the best digested.
In the oilseed meals assayed, amino acid digestibility was highest for soya-bean and sunflower meals, intermediate for canola meal and lowest for cottonseed meal. Ileal digestibility coefficients of amino acids in lupins were found to be slightly lower than those in soya-bean meal. The amino acid digestibilities of field peas, faba beans and chickpeas were considerably lower than those of lupins. Digestibility of arginine was the highest and that of threonine was the lowest of the indispensable amino acids in oilseed meals and grain legumes, except in cottonseed meal. Lysine was the least digestible amino acid in cottonseed meal.
In the animal protein sources assayed, digestibility coefficients of amino acids in blood meal were high, intermediate in fish meal, and low in meat meal, meat and bone meal and feather meal. Variation in amino acid digestibility coefficients determined for blood meal samples was small. However, wide variations in amino acid digestibilities were observed for other animal protein sources, highlighting significant batch-to-batch differences. In particular, marked variations were determined for meat meal and meat and bone meal samples. Cystine was the least digested amino acid in animal protein meals, with the exception of blood meal in which isoleucine had the lowest digestibility. The limitations of using apparent digestibility values in diet formulations and the concept of the standardized digestibility system to overcome these limitations are discussed.