Feed Milling Principles
Stock feed manufacturers play an essential role in converting basic raw material ingredients into compound finished feed for animals. The key components within this conversion can be viewed as:
Raw Material Ingredient Sourcing
The main raw material ingredients used in the manufacture of compound animal feeds include cereal grains, legume grains, vegetable protein meals, animal protein meals, cereal milling co-products, minerals and vitamins. Feed additives may be included for specific purposes.
Feed manufacturers purchase raw material ingredients which comply with minimum quality standards, with each raw material being subject to inspection and testing when received at a milling site.
The majority of raw material ingredients are sourced from Australian farmers and supply companies.
Feed additives are controlled through the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), with only registered products approved for use by stockfeed manufacturers. Contrary to a common public belief, no hormones are used in any stockfeed manufactured within Australia, and there are no hormones registered for inclusion in animal feeds in Australia.
Feed manufacturers employ animal nutritionists who are scientifically qualified in animal nutrition. The nutritionist uses computer programs to formulate feed rations to meet the nutrient requirements for each class of livestock.
The significant progress in animal performance has been achieved in part due to the greater nutritional knowledge gained through research in defining the nutrient requirements for modern day genetic stock.
Feed Milling and Manufacturing
The conversion of raw material ingredients into feed has a number of steps.
- Grain Milling - roller mill or hammer mill processing
- Batching - weighing of raw material ingredients according to formulated recipes for each batch of feed
- Mixing - to provide a consistent compound mix of ingredients
Following mixing, feed can be supplied as a mash (also known as meal) for feeding to particular livestock.
Feed can also be further processed into pellets. This process uses steam to condition the meal. The hot conditioned meal is then pressed through a die to form pellets. The pellets are then cooled rapidly to make them durable.
The modern feedmill is a highly automated and computer controlled manufacturing plant. Feed manufacturers are committed to the industry through their high capital investment in plant and equipment, this being required to ensure they can provide high quality feeds at efficient manufacturing rates.
The manufactured feed products are supplied either in bulk, by delivery trucks to larger scale livestock producers, or in bags to smaller scale producers and livestock owners. Throughout the feed manufacturing process, quality assurance steps require the products to be sampled and tested to ensure finished products meet minimum quality standards.
Stock feed manufacturers provide technical support to livestock producers to aid in increasing livestock performance. Feeds being marketed are supported by research based feeding recommendations.
The range of products manufactured and supplied in Australia is as broad as the number and types of animals being fed. The largest volume products are supplied to large scale poultry, pig, dairy and beef producers. Smaller volume products are manufactured for feeding to sport and companion animals such as horses and to a range of other animals as diverse as ostriches, alpacas, specialty poultry, rabbits and mice.