Animal husbandry is a big industry and the animals that are reared here are taken care of in the best possible way. In order to ensure that the maximum benefit can be derived from them, they need to be kept healthy and strong. This is achieved with the use of animal feeds which generally refers to food that is given to the animals rather than what they forage on by themselves.
Types of animal feed
The purpose of providing animals with animal feed is to ensure that they are getting compensated for the required nutrients that are absent in their natural diet. Animal feed is commonly divided into those that come from traditional sources and those that are a mixture of additives and other raw materials.
- Traditional feed: This is generally used to refer to food scraps as found in every household and the by-products as obtained from industries related to food processing. Some of the common examples of traditional feed are:
- Peanuts, corn and soy which are by-products of oil crop milling;
- Slop, a food scrap fed to pigs;
- Chicken scratch, scrap fed to chicken;
- Spent grain, a by-product of the brewing industry etc.
- Compound feed: These are compound blends made keeping a specific animal in mind. Thus raw materials and other additives are formulated as per the requirements of specific animals so as to ensure maximum benefit to the targeted animal. Generally the main ingredient of the same are feed grains, such as sorghum, soybeans, oats, barley and corn which are formulated by the feed manufacturers as pellets, crumbles or meal types.
- Premixes: These are sometimes classified under compound feed or sold separately. They include a blend of micro ingredients in commercial rations and can be easily procured from companies selling premixes in the sacked form. This easy availability enables the farmer to purchase a premix of his choice depending on the animals that he rears. The farmers can also make their own mixes by using their own special formula and yet be assured that their farm animals are getting the recommended levels of nutrients. Some of the micro ingredients which form a part of the premixes are:
- Chemical preservatives;
- Fermentation products etc.
Animal feed ingredients
Most animal feed ingredients manufacturing companies, such as Champrix generally employ nutritionists who help create formulated mixtures based on the needs of the targeted animals. This process of formulating an animal feed so as to provide a balanced diet to animals is a rather complex process since each group of animals has different nutritional needs. These feeds generally consist of:
- Agricultural products, such as vitamins, wheat, fruits, forage, minerals, corn, barley, distiller’s grain, sorghum and vegetables.
- Co-products which are by-products of either a chemical reaction or a manufacturing process and include ingredients, such as:
- Animal protein;
- Blood meal;
- Bakery co-products;
- Citrus pulp;
- Brewer’s yeast;
- Soybean meal etc.
Manufacturing of animal feed ingredients
Animal feed is generally made in feed mills situated across the world and includes the 4 major processes of:
- Procurement of raw materials from suppliers;
- Creating an animal feed formula based on years of scientific research;
- Mixing of the raw ingredients in rations specified the animal feed formula;
- Packaging of the animal feed along with their labelling for selling into the markets worldwide.
Raw materials on their procurement are first weighed and then tested and analysed to ensure that the required nutrients are present in the proper quality and quantity. Testing of these raw materials is done as much to ensure quality as to make them safe for use on animals and involves certain physical, chemical and electronic measurements to test if the raw materials match up to the predetermined standards. Thus testing is carried out for certain key quality indicators, such as:
- Moisture content;
- Quality and quantity of fats and proteins contained in it;
- Presence of crude fibres;
- Mycotoxins present;
- Pathogens included etc.
Quality control too forms an important part of the manufacturing process. In fact it determines the effectiveness of the animal feed made and its contribution to the growth and health of the animals concerned. Quality control starts with the examination of the supplied ingredients which are:
- Physically checked for damages caused by heat, weather conditions, pests or molds;
- Presence of filth, adulterants and contaminants.
Quality control is commonly facilitated by a process known as microscopy which happens to be the most fundamental and the fastest technique for the quality control of animal feed ingredients. Microscopy is further divided into:
- Qualitative microscopy which use surface features and even cellular characteristics to identify and evaluate ingredients and other foreign materials which might be supplied individually or in mixtures;
- Quantitative microscopy measures the specific amounts of ingredients that are present in the finished animal feed as well as the specific amount of adulterants and contaminants present.
Animal feed ingredients play a very important role in the animal husbandry industry. In fact the health of the animals reared in a farm forms the foundation of this industry and thus needs to be properly catered to so as to ensure the health of the industry as a whole.