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HMRC internal manual

VAT Food

HM Revenue & Customs
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Items benefiting from the relief: animal feeding stuffs: categories of animal foodstuffs

The following terms are used in the trade to describe different kinds of animal feed:

  • straights
  • compound feeds
  • protein concentrates
  • additives
  • supplements
  • balancers
  • pre-mixes.

The definitions below are taken from literature issued to the trade by the main trade associations.


These are single feeding stuffs of animal or vegetable origin that may or may not have undergone some form of processing. They are the basic ingredients from which compound feeds and protein concentrates are prepared, but are rarely completely adequate to provide alone all the nutritional requirements of a farm animal.

Examples of straights include wheat, barley, flaked maize, field beans, groundnut cake and meal, soya bean meal, fish meal, meat meal, meat and bone meal. Unless held out for sale for a non-feed purpose or as packaged pet food (both of which are unlikely), straights are zero-rated.

Compound feeds

These consist of a number of different ingredients (including major minerals, trace elements, vitamins and other additives), mixed and blended in appropriate proportions to provide properly balanced diets for all types of livestock at every stage of growth and development. Where such feeds are designed to supplement natural foods without further mixing with cereals, the product is frequently given a supplementary name to demonstrate this - for example for balancing straw, grass, kale, silage. Compound feeds, being designed specifically for animal feeding, are always zero-rated.

Protein concentrates

These are products specifically designed for further mixing (at an inclusion rate of 5% or more) with planned proportions of cereals and other feeding stuffs. They consist of appropriate blends of animal or vegetable protein (or both), plus other essential nutrients, such as Vitamins and minerals. Being designed specifically for animal nourishment, protein concentrates are zero-rated.


These are substances added to either compound feeds or protein concentrates in the course of manufacture for some specific purpose other than as a direct source of nourishment, and are normally supplied to manufacturers rather than to farmers. They include antibiotics and other medicinal products, anti-oxidants, colouring agents, binders, and flavourings.

Since they are not a source of nourishment for the animal, additives supplied on their own are standard-rated. Once they have been incorporated into a feed, the liability of the final product will depend on its nature. Normally, it will still be primarily a feeding compound and so zero-rated.


These are products designed for adding to other feed in a proportion of less than 5% of the whole (see also protein concentrates above) to supply planned proportions of vitamins, trace minerals, one or more non-nutrient additives and other special ingredients. Normally, the active ingredients are combined with an inert carrier (for example cereal) to make for easier mixing by the purchaser. They may be supplied to manufacturers or to farmers for making feed on the farm. Their liability will depend on whether they are for medicinal or nutritional purposes, but most are nutritional and so zero-rated.


This term is used (rather loosely) to refer to either supplements or protein concentrates; a balancer is effectively any mix of substances used to bring a nutritionally imperfect foodstuff up to a sufficient nutritional standard to serve as usable feed. The more specific terms protein concentrate or supplement are preferred.


Again a general term used to refer to a supplement or additive where the active materials, needed only at low levels, have been incorporated into a suitable inert carrier to allow for easier mixing of the product into the final feed. Again, the more specific terms of supplement or additive are preferred.