April 13, 2016


Kemin organises 2nd International Feed Engineering Summit


Press release



Many feed mill operators have done just about all they can to increase profitability through reducing input costs at the raw material level, however, there are still additional ways to increase profitability in their feed production. That was the collective focus of feed engineering experts, assembled by Kemin, at the 2nd International Feed Engineering Summit in Herentals, Belgium.


The key is to focus on feed processing to further improve feed mill efficiency and profitability by minimising ingredient segregation, eliminating shrinkage, reducing production process variability, assuring product quality, improving nutrient and feed utilisation by the animals, savings in energy use and increased production rate.

"There is a clear demand for this kind of session," said Tom Verleyen, marketing director for Kemin Industries animal nutrition and health EMENA division. "Typically the attention is on animal nutrition and health. Very few symposia provide in depth discussions on the actual process of feed production. That's why we brought together feed engineering experts to share their expertise and tools."

Compound feed production is a complicated operation that requires processing of a heterogeneous mixture of many ingredients into uniform pellets. The following is intended to capture the educational, practical and business application highlights provided to the Feed Engineering Summit attendees.

Pellet Quality

Dr. Ing. Janine Bohlmann, Research Institute of Feed Technology, Germany, discussed the need to start with good pellet quality because of the benefits gained such as compaction, which reduces the volume of the feed, saving transport and storage capacity. Good pellets have a homogeneous shape and are stable in transport and storage which reduces loss from dust or fines. Good heat transfer during steam conditioning is a valuable tool for feed hygiene, and improves nutrient digestibility.

Mixture Adherence

An important requirement for pelleting feed is that the various particles in a feed mixture adhere or stick together. Adherence is generally caused by the capillary force between moist surfaces and involves Van der Waal's forces, moisture bridges, physical adhesion and solid state bridges. The ability to convert a feed mixture into homogeneous stable pellets is also influenced by the physical and chemical properties of the feed mixture.

The two things to focus on are the physical properties of bulk density and particle size distribution, and the chemical properties of fat, protein, fibre, starch, molasses, ash and moisture.

Pellet Durability

Dr. Bohlmann shared that pellet durability will generally decline exponentially with increasing fat content when fat is added as a separate ingredient. In contrast to fat, high protein contents of approximately 25%, gives more solid pellets. Crude fibre contents above 10% increase friction in the die and make the pellets more solid.

Crude fibre levels change the pressing behaviour of feed mixtures more than increasing starch or protein. It is preferable that starch modification or gelatinisation should take place during conditioning of the feed mixture and not during compacting in the die as this can reduce pellet quality. Inorganic feed ingredients such as minerals, which contribute to the ash content, can result in harder pellets, increased energy demand and increased die wear.

Use of Steam

There are several important processing parameters which influence the feed pelleting process, of which steam is a critical one. Steam is widely used in many industries including animal feed manufacturing and various grades and quality of steam are available.

Mr. Peter De Cneudt, Spirax Sarco, of Belgium strongly emphasised that for the feed industry saturated steam used as superheated steam is not appropriate. With saturated steam there is a direct connection between temperature and pressure. If you know the temperature you know the pressure and vice versa, regardless of the dryness fraction. For the feed industry, the major quality criterion for steam is to keep the variance of the dryness fraction as low as possible. Steam for conditioning can take up to as much as 20% of energy costs in feed manufacture so careful monitoring of steam use is important.

Effective Cooling and Air Flow

Mr. Peter Sillen, Geelen Counterflow, of The Netherlands explained the theory of cooling, essentially a process of heat and moisture transfer from the product to the air. In a feed mill, air flow is used to achieve an evaporative cooling of feed pellets and also to reduce the moisture content in the pellets. Air flow rate and temperature are important parameters of cooling. The air flow rate must be sufficiently high to avoid the air becoming saturated with moisture or condensation will occur. Cold air holds less water than warm air and the air moisture content can be measured using a relative humidity sensor. High air flow rates will give more cooling by heat transfer but less evaporation and therefore will take out less water whereas long retention times will remove more water.

Energy Use Reduction

Clearly energy use is very significant in feed manufacturing. That's why energy consumption needs to be reduced as part of a sustainability programme. Ir. Oriane Guerin, Zetadec, of The Netherlands has investigated feed manufacturing in relation to energy use. It is recognised that there are possibilities to decrease variability in the pelleting process by understanding the factors contributing to the energy impact of the feed production process.

Results of a study were presented where the energy consumption of the pelleting process from three feed factories was compared, two of which were medium-sized companies and the third was a large producer. In general, when capacity increased, the net Specific Mechanical Energy (SME) decreased. This requires online measurements to optimise capacity, temperature and the various machines in use. The objective being to reduce variability in the manufacturing process - as this in turn leads to reduced energy consumption.


The process of preparing the feed mixture for effective processing through steam conditioning, pressing, and cooling is key. Preconditioning will result in the optimum production, both in physical characteristics of pellet quality, as well as feed production efficiency. In order to reach consistent moisture targets in the mixer through preconditioning practices, it is crucial to reach moisture targets at each step of feed processing. Dr. Luis Conchello, Kemin product manager, explained the MillSMART™ preconditioning programme to effectively prepare the feedstuff for optimum conditioning, compacting and cooling.

The MillSMART™ programme is designed to operate before steam conditioning and ensures the feed mixture has the optimum conditions for effective steam conditioning, pelleting and cooling.

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