How is Animal Feed Made?
Animal feed is a formulated mixture created by nutritionists-the dieticians of the animal feed world-to provide the animal with the necessary balanced nutrients for proper growth, development and maintenance. Feed is designed to compensate for nutrients and supplements that may be absent from an animal’s natural diet.
Animal nutritionists focus on the dietary needs of animals and work to formulate a nutritionally sound and balanced diet. This occupation requires a substantial science background in animal behavior, biology, chemistry, food processing and physics. Formulating a balanced diet is a complex process; every species requires different nutritional needs. For each animal feed and pet food company, there are animal nutritionists working side-by-side with scientists to formulate the animal diets.
A career as an animal nutritionist requires a bachelor’s degree in animal science or an animal science-related degree and many times a master’s degree and/or doctoral degree in animal nutrition.
There are more than 900 agricultural ingredients and co-products used to create animal and pet food diets. Ingredients include barley, corn, distiller’s grain, forage, fruits, minerals, sorghum, vegetables, vitamins and wheat. Co-products are the outputs from a manufacturing process or chemical reaction. Many animal source and vegetation co-products are used in the formulation of feed. These ingredients include, but are not limited to, animal protein, bakery co-products, blood meal, brewer’s yeast, citrus pulp, distiller’s grain, molasses, soybean meal and salt.
A co-product is a secondary product that is recycled for another purpose. Co-products are commonly used in animal feeds and pet foods. It is a sustainable way to efficiently utilize products.
Feed mills worldwide use four basic processes to produce animal feed: receiving raw ingredients from suppliers; creating a feed formula based on many years of research; mixing ingredients together to make a complete feed; and packaging and labeling feed to be shipped for commercial or retail purposes.
Receiving raw ingredients from suppliers is the most important process. Upon arrival, ingredients are weighed, tested and analyzed for various nutrients to ensure their quality and safety. This process allows nutritionists to accurately formulate feed for a specific species.
Laboratory testing is an important part of any quality control program because it measures specific components of a feed/ingredient sample to assure that it meets quality specifications. Tests involve chemical, physical and/or electronic measurement to determine the quality of a product in comparison to a predetermined standard.Testing schemes should be developed by quality assurance, nutrition, procurement and production staff. Feed and ingredients are tested for moisture content, protein, fat quality, fat quantity, crude fiber, mycotoxins, pathogens and other key indicators of quality.
Quality control is a set of procedures followed to ensure quality of a product and all factors involved. Quality assurance begins with examination of incoming ingredients. Damage by weather, molds, heat and insects; filth; adulterants; and contaminants can be detected by the microscopist or trained assistants. Mixing quality can also be evaluated rapidly. The presence or absence of micro ingredients, minerals and vitamins are established by observation or by micro spot-testing.
Microscopy is one of the fastest and most fundamental, quality control techniques available for analyses of formula feed and feed ingredient. The various applications of feed microscopy range from identifying and quantifying contaminants and adulterations in supplier samples or incoming ingredients to providing customer support investigations and complaints and brand protection in the marketplace.
Feed microscopy can be divided into two major types-qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative microscopy is the identification and evaluation of ingredients and foreign materials, alone or in mixtures, via either surface features or cellular characteristics. Quantitative microscopy is the subjective, proportioned measurement of ingredients in finished feeds or of contaminants and adulterants in ingredients, and involves examinations by both stereo- and compound microscopes.
Feed manufactures follow regulations governed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA is responsible for the regulation of feed and implementation of policies through the state government and the Association of American Feed Control Officials Numerous feed certification programs such as the American Feed Industry Association’s Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification Program
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