Innovations in Feed Mill Efficiency and Feed Safety


Swamy Haladi1, Kai-J. Kuehlmann2, Paul Koolen3

1Trouw Nutrition, India 2Trouw Nutrition Asia, Thailand 3Trouw Nutrition Global Marketing, the Netherlands

There has been consistent increase in the demand on human food supply from farmed animals in line with increase in global human population. Animal protein supply has to be affordable and better feed efficiency of livestock and poultry will play a major role in realizing this demand.  Feed cost accounts for more than 70% of poultry production cost and hence, efficient feed milling can reduce the cost of feed production. In addition to affordability, the modern agriculture has focused on feed safety as a global concern for several years now. India’s growing middle and upper social strata show strong conscience towards high food quality and safety prompting feed millers and integrators to use best feed management strategies to keep molds, bacteria and mycotoxins at bay. This article reviews recent innovations in feed mill efficiency, mold and mycotoxin management.

scientific testing of feed ingredients

Feed Mill Challenges

Although initially, feed raw materials have an average moisture content of 12%, its hammer-mill-crushing, grinding and ingredient mixing stages let moisture evaporate and thereby decrease the initial moisture content often to below 11%. To become profitable, this loss needs to be recovered to obtain 12% moisture in the finished feed. Figure 1 illustrates a typical moisture profile during the feed manufacturing process. Inferior quality wet steam added during feed conditioning, however, condensates during the cooling stage resulting in vast breeding grounds for molds and bacteria around the feed particles. Dry steam application in the conditioner is more challenging compared to wet steam application. To avoid mold and bacterial contamination of feed during the cooling process, often finished feeds are being produced with lower moisture content than initially contained by its feed raw material ingredients, leading to a financial feed efficiency loss. Such losses have a significant impact on a commercial millers’ management by feed volume, quality and value. Poultry integrators often suffer from reduced bird’s growth performance.

Further, the Indian poultry feed industry suffers from poor pellet feed quality in terms of PDI, hardness, fines, etc. The main reason, along with many other factors, for poor pellet quality seems to stem from the use of poor quality steam.

Since the Indian modern agricultural industry is fully aware of the presence of molds, pathogenic bacteria and mycotoxins causing strong economical setbacks in feed quality, animal health condition and ultimate profitability, proper management strategies to combat these feed-efficiency impacting trilogy need to be implemented for strong animal health performance and quality assurance.

Feed mill solutions

Commonly water is added into the feed mixer to prevent moisture loss during feed production in spite of knowing two major risks; (i) wetting the feed dough increases the feedstuff’s surface tension (ii) potential mold growth. Surfactants reduce the surface tension and allow even moisture penetration of mixed feedstuff, thereby reducing mold formation by wet spots (Figure 2). The feed dough becomes smoother consuming less energy and higher dies throughput. Here strong production capacity improvements and energy savings can be obtained as the pelletizer accounts for about half the energy consumed during feed milling.

Surfactants mixture

Activated propionates

Mold growth in feed raw materials and processed feeds are persistent during harvest, transportation, storage and processing periods and become a higher challenge under tropical humid and warm climate conditions. Aside from consuming the feed raw material’s nutrients, molds produce mycotoxins or block respiratory functions – all leading to heavy impacts on animal’s health and performance. Mold control is commonly being managed with propionic acid and its salts. To more efficiently break through the mold’s cell wall, micelle-driven activated propionates can be used as they increase the cell wall’s porosity. This leads to stronger decrease in the mold’s cytoplasmic pH leading to cell death (Figure 3). The synergistic mold-inhibiting acid blend further assures a long lasting antifungal effect.

Activated propionates

Feed moisture management through efficient dosing systems

Moisture retention times above 80% are key factors for high quality feed storage with concomitant moisture and nutritional levels prior to animal feeding. The Moisture Management System (MMS) with its real-time in line moisture determination during feed mixing guarantees optimal moisture content throughput and strong mold and bacterial inhibition during feed processing. The MMS is available as moisture measuring (i) “stand-alone” and (ii) interface-card connected application paves the way for optimal feed mill operation with high quality standards by adjusting the water-mold-inhibiting-product mix to the real-time moisture content of the raw feed materials during mixing. 

The rapid mycotoxin analysis

Out of the more than 500 mycotoxins presently known, six (AF, DON, FUM, OTA, T-2/HT-2 and ZEA) are presently being recognized as the most harmful to livestock growth and health performance, especially considering the use of multiple feed ingredients. Thus, strong and effective quality control is needed to restrict and allow only high quality feed raw material entrance to feed mills. Here, a rapid mycotoxin analysis needs to be in place! Sophisticated analytical methods, such as HPLC and LC-MS/MS are certainly more precise; however, time-consuming to obtain acceptable results at the feed mills entrance area.

Trouw Nutrition developed the rapid mycotoxin analysis kit “Mycomaster”, which can analyze the most animal-performance inhibiting six mycotoxins of present industry relevance in less than 15 min based on the analytical lateral flow-technology. Additionally, customers analyzing their more than 50 feed raw materials and finished feeds by using the Mycomaster, can get connected to Nutreco’s database called “The Nutriopt Mycotoxin Advisor”. Real-time regional mycotoxin analyzed updates comparable with their own non-disclosed situation will be provided to the customers and also the respective advise on inclusion rates of mycotoxin binder into feed from Trouw Nutrition’s portfolio. This is a unique approach to assist quality assurance and animal health performance in modern feed milling of India.


Enhanced process moisture management and microbial risk management assist poultry producers in assuring feed safety and to further increase profitability from their feed sales or poultry performance. Trouw Nutrition, a Nutreco company, is a global leader in innovative feed specialties, premixes and nutritional services for the animal nutrition industry. Combining product portfolios with analytical and dosing services will boost productivity and support animal health in all life stages. These unique and specific Trouw Nutrition solutions help the farmers and feed millers to meet their animal’s nutrient requirements. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company has locations in 25 countries and employs approximately 5,000 people.