Effective moisture management for profitable feed milling
Producing high-quality feed while striving for highest profitability is no new strategy to feed millers. It is, however, easier said than done considering many factors affecting feed process efficiency with its risks from raw material to final feed quality. Trouw Nutrition, the animal health division of Nutreco, is closely collaborating with raw material producers, feed millers and animal producers to ensure stable, high quality feeds, while aiming for increased efficiency through moisture management and feed process energy reduction at the feed mill. This article describes 4 elements that contribute to efficient, stable and profitable feed production.
Feed moisture management
Managing moisture during feed processing is critical since moisture loss takes place at several steps of the production process. These losses need to get compensated before feed packaging to maximise final output and profit. Proper moisture management leads to the production of stable pellets that provide a stable source of nutrition when consumed by the animal.
A common solution to compensate moisture loss is the addition of water in the form of steam during conditioning. The addition of steam aids to gelatinization, which plays an important role in throughput at the pelletizer press. However, the increased levels of moisture also pose a risk for mould growth. When not implemented correctly, moisture management can even negatively impact feed quality as it can result in reduced starch and protein content, while microbial growth and mycotoxins can pose a risk to animal health and performance. Additionally, it can lead to process losses, such as decreased pellet durability and reduced throughput. Moreover, process moisture loss also known as 'shrinkage' may lead to additional financial strain for the commercial feed millers.
Feed moisture can be profitably managed usinga hydrated solution of Fylax Forte-HC Liquid (FFHCL), which is mould inhibitor with a synergistic blend of buffered and non-buffered organic acids, as well as surfactants. This can significantly reduce press resistance and energy consumption, decreasing the risk of feed blockages at the pelletizer without increasing the risk of microbial growth during feed storage.
Trouw Nutrition's' liquid mould inhibitor FFHCL contains a patent pending technology, called ActiProp; a blend of buffered and non-buffered organic acids combined with surfactants and emulsifiers to guarantee reduction, milling efficiency increase, nutrient value preservation and feed shelf life prolongation.
This solution has been proven in multiple commercial situations. In a trial done at a commercial feed mill in Indonesia , applying 750g of FFHCL per tonne of feed in a hydrated solution (HS) sprayed with flat-nozzles into the mixer for a broiler starter feed production increased final moisture by 4.8% of bagged feed compared to control feed. Mould development was reduced by 96% for FFHCL treated feeds after four weeks of storage. The integrated surfactant contributed to 3.8% energy reduction at the pelletizer with increased feed throughput of 2%, overall delivering a return of investment (ROI) of 1.3.
In a similar trial , the moisture profile during poultry feed pellet production was measured and resulted in a 1% higher moisture of the bagged feed (Figure 1) having received a 1% HS with 500 g/t FFHCL application into the mixer compared to bagged control feed. Both trials showed a strong increase in feed quality, milling efficiency and profitability.
Keeping the bagged feeds over 60 days in storage under ambient conditions to observe moisture averaged in a 10.5%, 13.6% and 14.3% higher moisture of the FFHCL treated feeds, respectively compared to control feed containing a competitive powder inhibitor (Figure 2,).
Surface tension reduction
Adding solely water to the feed mash into the conditioner of a pelleting line may cause an unequal feed-mix due to imbalanced moisture distribution, leading to lump formations or clogging, ultimately affecting feed quality in terms of balanced nutrient bioavailability, texture, palatability and shelf life.
Moisture distribution balancing into feed mash can be supported by increasing the droplets' surface area through reducing its cohesive forces and surface tension, thereby increasing its absorbance by ground feed particles. Thus, lowering the surface tension of steamed water droplets into the conditioner reduces the challenge of insufficient moisture absorption by feed mash particles during feed processing. In a comparison study, it was shown that Fylax Forte-HC liquid results in the lowest surface tension, thereby contributing to high moisture absorption by feed mash particles (Figure 3), providing a high compound feed quality to feed millers.
Figure 3: Comparing the surface tension* with water, emulsifiers and competitive liquid inhibitors. Fylax Forte HC Liquid (FFHCL) showed the lowest surface tension.
Feed shelf-life management
External factors, such as high temperatures combined with high humidity, as well as their fluctuations between day and night pose ideal conditions for microbes to proliferate and degrade the quality of nutrients in compound feed.
To maintain the feeds' shelf life despite water addition, the application of mould inhibitors is imperative. Fylax Forte-HC liquid is Trouw Nutrition's most efficient mould inhibitor and contains organic acids combined with a patent-pending technology, called ActiProp. This technology contains organic acid, buffering agent, surfactant and a phytochemical. Since feed raw materials are often contaminated with several mould species, a combination of organic acids is more efficient than mould inhibitors consisting of a single organic acid. ActiProp enables acids to be more efficient in penetrating the moulds' cytoplasm to dissociate, thereby reducing the moulds' pH-environment into sub-optimal conditions and lead to cell death (Figure 4).
Applying FFHCL into hog grower feed pellet production increased the feeds' shelf life for FFHCL treated feed by on average 31%, 77% and 123% respectively for treatments 2 to 4 compared to the control feed over the 60-day storage period (Table 2).
Solution application and dosing
Producing feed with consistent nutrient value, moisture content and, overall quality can be managed by a feed moisture-regulating system integrated into the feed line at the mixer, the Moisture Management System (MMS). This system measures the moisture content of the mixer-dispatching feed mash and adjusts the FFHCL and water ratio related to the moisture target for the following feed batch. Thus, the respective target moisture is obtained for best feed quality and milling efficiency.
Optimizing feed moisture management through a unique combination of a premium mould inhibitor combined with applicable spray systems to customer tailored services supports Trouw Nutrition's commitment to 'Feeding the Future', the ultimate company goal.
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Article made possible through the contribution of Dr. Prince Nanda, Dr. Kai–J. Kühlmann and Trouw Nutrition