The global feed market consists of a large number of feed mills that create feed for chickens, cows, pigs, and other animals. Feed mills combine ingredients, such as poultry meal, meat and bone meal, soybean meal, corn, rice, etc. in a proper ration to get the desired nutrition content. The mixed product is then extruded before it is baked in an oven and an oil spray is often applied.
Animal feeds are produced to exacting nutritional specifications to optimize animal health and performance. These specifications are based on standard proximate analysis of moisture, protein and fat, but often additional parameters such as fibers, starch and even amino acid composition is monitored. This is a challenge for feed compounders as there are many ingredients in each feed formulation, and each ingredient has a natural variation in composition and nutritional content.
Increasingly, feed mills use Least Cost Formulation, which balances the use of less expensive ingredients to get the required nutritional level of protein, fat, fiber, etc. This can make NIR analysis challenging without a proper calibration database.
At every step in the process, there is a necessity to make analytical measurements to verify the quality and nutritional content of samples. Incoming raw materials should be analyzed to verify contract specifications and supplier integrity, and also as input to least cost fomulation systems. In-process and finished feeds can be analyzed to verify product specifications.
Near infrared analysis (NIR) allows for rapid and accurate analysis of both ingredients and compound feeds. Rapid, at-line analysis allows for immediate acceptance or failure of incoming raw materials, eliminating the costly step of holding material in quarantine. Out of spec raw materials can be rejected or discounted against the contract price. Contaminated or adulterated ingredients can often be detected, providing a first line of defense for food safety.
NIR analyzers are often used to analyze in-process and finished products. NIR can be used in-process at the extruder and dryer to control moisture as well as at the oil sprayer to catch blockages and ensure proper fat levels. Finished product can be analyzed to verify and document label claims. With NIR, 100% analysis rates of all finished product is possible, providing traceability for every shipment that leaves the plant. NIR analysis can provide a final QC check ensuring product conformity and safety.
Unity Scientific has a number of options for pre-calibrated analyzer packages for the compound feed and feed ingredient producers. The Feed Analyzer packages have a number of calibration options that cover a wide range of finished feeds and feed ingredients and are designed to provide a complete nutritional picture of the compound feed produced. The Unity Feed Analyzer is a complete feedmill nutrient analyzer.