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, but often additional parmeters such as 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.
At every step in the process, there is a necessity to make analytical measurements. Incoming Raw materials can be analyzed to verify supplier integrity. NIR 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.
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.
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 calibration options that cover a wide range of finished feeds and feed ingredients designed to provide a complete nutritional picture of the compound feed produced. The Unity Feed Analyzer is a complete feedmill nutrient analyzer.