Understanding Processing and Quality of Soybean Meal

Understanding Processing and Quality of Soybean Meal

Wednesday, August 30, 2023 at 9:56 AM

Soybeans are a valuable raw material, used primarily for oil for human consumption. When the oil is extracted from the soybeans the product soybean meal is left which is a great protein source for animal feed, including poultry. It provides essential nutrients and amino acids that support production, healthy muscle development, reproduction, and overall animal performance. However, the quality of soybean meal can vary significantly and thus impact the performance of the animals.

Processing methods play a crucial role in determining the quality of soybean meal. Processing involves steps, such as cleaning, dehulling, oil extraction, and toasting. Differences in techniques, equipment, and temperature can impact the nutritional composition, digestibility, and overall quality of the final product.

Optimizing Oil Extraction
Soybean oil is a valuable raw material for the human industry, so it is important to extract as much oil as possible. The bean contains a fibre-rich outer hull which impairs oil extraction. These hulls are therefore often removed to optimize oil yield. An additional advantage is that the soybean meal which is left contains less fibre and is therefore more concentrated in protein and fat. The level of fat extraction also determines the crude protein content of the soybean meal. The crude protein content is higher if more oil is extracted from the soybean as with the solvent extraction method. This method involves using a solvent, typically hexane, to dissolve the oil from the soybean. In the case of mechanical pressing less oil will be extracted and thus the soybean residue will have a higher crude fat level and a lower crude protein level. This product is typically named soybean cake instead of soybean meal.

Toasting to Reduce Anti-Nutritional Factors
Soybeans naturally contain anti-nutritional factors, such as trypsin inhibitors and urease, which can negatively affect nutrient absorption and animal health. Trypsin inhibitor, as it says, inhibits the activity of the enzyme trypsin, which is crucial for protein digestion. Trypsin inhibitors hinder protein digestion and absorption, leading to reduced nutrient utilization and impaired animal performance. Another anti-nutritional factor present in soybean is urease. Urease is a natural enzyme and hydrolyses urea to release ammonia, which is harmful to animals. High levels of ammonia in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to several issues, such as reduced nutrient absorption, gut irritation, and wet litter. Applying heat, such as toasting the soybeans, deactivates trypsin inhibitors and urease activity and therefore improves digestibility.

Balancing Heat Treatment for Optimal Quality
While toasting is essential to deactivate anti-nutritional factors, excessive heat can denature proteins, making them less susceptible to enzymatic breakdown in the digestive tract. This can lead to a deficiency of amino acids, but also to an excess of indigestible proteins in the hindgut, which is a substrate for pathogens. Also, Over-toasted soybean meal may have an undesirable taste and odour, leading to reduced feed intake and potentially compromising animal performance.

Local vs. Imported Soybean Meal
Locally processed soybean meal can differ in quality from imported soybean meal due to various factors such as different quality standards, oil extraction methods and processing methods, carrying the risk of under or over toasting. If the quality of local soybean meal is questionable or if soybean meal is locally not available, then our concentrates are the best reliable option. In concentrates the protein rich raw material is already included, unlike in premixes. We import premium soybean meal due to our favourable market position and our location near two of the world's largest ports. The soybean meal used in our concentrates is extensively analysed to ensure consistent quality of our products and allows us to offer our customers the best feed options.

Soybean meal is a valuable source of essential nutrients and amino acids for animal nutrition. Understanding the impact of processing methods on its quality is crucial for ensuring optimal animal performance and overall health. With our commitment to providing premium animal nutrition products, we encourage informed decisions based on quality rather than price. By choosing the best soybean meal, you can unlock the nutritional potential and well-being of your animals, paving the way for enhanced productivity and performance.