Feed manufacturing processes can commonly affect production efficiency, feed consumption, animal health, and above all, farm profitability. Despite this fact, sometimes producers tend to ignore this important factor.
Feed manufacturing impacts are sometimes forgotten or underestimated within the pig industry. There is always talk about the composition of costs in pig production, largely determined by feed. However, little is said about the impact that feed manufacturing plants can have on the performance and profitability of farms.
Manufacturing rations is not just the simple act of mixing essential nutrients. It also involves the responsibility of preserving animal and people’s health, safety, and welfare. In addition to a commitment with producers’ profitability. All of these factors are key ingredients that must be considered in feed manufacturing.
Some of the processes that commonly affect production efficiency, feed consumption, animal health, and above all, farm profitability are the following:
The act of grinding ingredients favors their adequate mixing, while also reducing particle segregation in flour rations. This in turn improves pellet quality. Milling also optimizes nutrient use by animals, due to a greater surface of contact with digestive enzymes.
Particle size can be measured through the mean geometric diameter (MGD) and its standard deviation, which has an optimal value according to each animal category. A very low MGD (fine particles), increases the onset of gastric ulcers, reduces feed consumption and consequently affects productive efficiency. Under extreme circumstances it can even lead to animal death.
When walking through the feeders it is common to find extremely thick and uneven particles within the feed, while also finding undigested cereal particles within feces. This is evidence of an incomplete digestion, which directly affects animals’ productive efficiency and the farm’s productivity levels.
Table 1: Recommendations of mean geometric diameter (MGD) in micrometers according to each animal category.
Source: Neta, 2015; Zanotto, 1999; Penz, 1998.
A correct dosage of ingredients is essential to meet animal nutritional requirements. Precision is the most important attribute within this process. Therefore, it is essential to know and respect the limits of acceptable deviations.
Generally, in feed factories, the list of available ingredients is small and the main potential poisoning sources like microminerals tend to be included in premixes or commercial cores. Under such circumstances the main risks are related to deficient dosage in any of the available ingredients.
A common example, is the presence of animals with bone development problems or fractures, caused by glitches in the premix/mineral core dispenser or operator negligence when loading the mixer. Dosing errors for amino acids and drugs can also reduce productive efficiency and compromise animal health.
There are many critical points that can lead to cross-contamination, such as internal transports, silos, mills, mixers, pelletizers, utensils, people, trucks, pests, etc.
A classic example may be the contamination of rations containing ionophores with pleuromutilin antibiotics such as tiamulin. The effects on animals can be devastating, with very high mortality rates.
Another important point is the presence of pests such as pigeons and rats, which can contaminate food with high loads of Salmonella, causing serious enteric problems. This is especially true for pigs within an early age.
Table 2: Main findings and causes of cross-contamination in feed factories.
|Type of cross-contamination||Practical examples||Main causes|
|Physical||Presence of foreign bodies in the food (plastic, wood, etc.)||
|Presence of corn kernels in soybean meal or any contamination between raw materials||
|Chemical||Presence of medication residues above what is allowed in medication-free foods;
Presence of monensin in foods that include tiamulin in their formulation
|Presence of foods with an inadequate nutritional profile in regards to the animal category;
Presence of medication in medication-free foods.
|Microbiological||Microbiological counts superior than the allowed limits;
Clinical cases of salmonellosis in piglets
The way in which raw materials or final foods are stored, as well as warehouse organization and cleanliness are decisive factors in determining final product quality.
Vegetable oils and animal fats are commonly used in feed formulation due to their high energy content. These tend to be stored incorrectly with long exposure periods to high temperatures or direct sunlight. They are usually stored in inadequate dirty containers, without the use of antioxidants. This leads to the peroxidation of fatty acids and the consequent reduction of fat-soluble vitamins. Resulting in decreased palatability, reduced consumption or feed rejection and low efficiency levels.
Figure 1: Recommendations for the correct storage of vegetable oils and animal fats
Table 3: Main synthetic and natural antioxidants used for the preservation of fatty raw materials and oils
*Check current legislation in your country
Mycotoxins can also be directly related to storage deficiencies, such as lack of rotation, high presence of damaged grains, insects, lack of aeration and high temperatures. Causing various problems from low consumption or rejection of food, to clinical signs and death in extreme cases.
Table 4: Mycotoxins that pose the greatest risk to animal and human health
Source: Modified from Embrapa, 2015
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