This article was originally published on All About Feed. Click here to read the original article.

New feed ingredients often present feed companies’ nutrition or sales teams with opportunities to either differentiate their range in the marketplace or save on ingredient costs. They frequently present processing challenges, and the net benefit to the business must always be considered.

New feed ingredients

These new ingredients regularly appear as a replacement for a current cereal or protein source; a micro-ingredient adding a specific benefit; or on occasion a processing aid. The physical form in which they come will vary with potential use. However grains, pellets, powders, liquids or slurries are all possibilities and the complexity of the challenge begins here.

An initial requirement is a pre-delivery sample, as the operators must be aware of what to expect and any potential QC issues to be aware of. This first contact point is when the handling and storage challenges begin, perhaps even before the material fully leaves the delivery vehicle.

One mature plant which had coped well with grains and protein meals for many years fared poorly when faced with a new extremely fine cereal replacer ingredient. The new material should have been characterised as a flowable powder as it found every hole, unsecured lid and worn out connection in the old place.

Potential challenges and opportunities

The ensuing snow globe demonstrated the need for a higher level of maintenance and continuous investment if new ingredient opportunities are to be cost-effective. The use of such free-flowing ingredients can cause problems further in the process if the scale is fed by screw conveyors. A flowable powder can continue to flow long after the device has stopped. Be aware that design adaptions or alternate delivery methods may have to be considered.

Alternately, sourcing ingredients as whole grains or pellets when meals were used previously have led several feed mills to note increased energy use in grinding, as well as additional costs with more frequent part replacement. Liquid ingredients provide similar challenges in movement and delivery accuracy. Compatibility with the lines, pumps and metres must be a consideration when new liquids come to the plant.

Changes in pH and viscosity will test the seals on the system and precision of addition. The incorporation of co-product slurries into extruded feeds is normal and can be achieved with appropriate mixing systems. It can also deliver directly to the conditioning or extrusion barrels. The high moisture of these ingredients has been a deterrent for terrestrial livestock feed mills. However, as the economic argument for feeding these materials becomes overwhelming, methods shall be refined to meet the demand.

Turn the challenge into an opportunity

When it comes to meeting the challenges of new ingredients, get to know them, understand their handling and storage characteristics, their sensitivities, and effects on the process. In short, turn the challenge into an opportunity. – John F Smillie, All About Feed