The animal food processing industry in the US in 2021 is pegged at $34.7 billion. A 2019 report reveals that domestic livestock and pets consumed nearly 284 million tons of high-quality, safe, nutritious food in the US. The top feed consumers include beef cattle, hogs, and broiler chickens, with dairy cattle, layers, turkeys, pet dogs and cats, horses, aquaculture, sheep, and goats as the other consumers down the line.
Feed manufacturers sell their products either directly to consumers or wholesalers. The Pelletizer machine is available for home-based manufacturing, small or medium-sized industries, and large-scale production.
What Are Feed Pellets?
Animal foods are processed in different ways. One of them is by converting food into pellets.
Melt pelletizing and strand pelletizing are the common methods used with the extrusion process.
Finely ground mash feed that is suitable to each animal species is converted to dense, free-flowing pellets or capsules through a process of heating, steaming, and mechanical pressure.
The food required for each animal species varies. In general, it depends on the purpose of rearing the animal. For instance, dairy cows are bred to produce high-quality milk. This means they have to consume food high in calcium, proteins, and phosphorous. They also need higher levels of carbohydrates to keep them active and in good health. Traditional foods may not provide these qualities. Hence pellet foods are the answer.
Pellets are aggregate foods that are formed by the extrusion of individual ingredients. To further explain, dairy cow feed pellets usually contain cereals, seeds, legumes, forage essences, dried vegetable pulp, molasses, and other ingredients. These ingredients go through certain processes such as heating, drying, and being molded into shape by pressure.
Pelletized food has several advantages. It reduces wastage and offers more nutrition per pound. You require less storage area, and since there are no fresh ingredients, there is no spoilage or contamination. Some animals tend to sort out their feed when you offer traditional food, and they reject items they don’t like. There is no risk of any of the essential foods or nutrients being rejected by picky eaters with pellets.
Livestock owners opine that their animals make better gains when fed pelletized food compared to traditional meals. The heating process breaks down starch making the food easier to digest. This is because the pelleting process results in gelatinization that enables animals to better utilize all the nutrients in the food. It offers a well-balanced, comprehensive diet that supplies all the essential nutrients. It can be tailored to meet different animal requirements such as juvenile, adult, lactating mother, racing or meat animal, older animal, etc.
Feed Pellet Machines
Pelletizing is done in a pellet mill or machine that helps to reduce the particle size of the individual ingredients and make the product easy to store, transport, and use.
These machines are simple in structure, have wider applicability and occupy less space. They can also be modified easily to manufacture different types of feeds. They usually have a long working life and are easy to operate and maintain.
No special training is needed to learn to operate these machines. Manufacturers usually provide a written manual or link to a video to learn to use the machine. They are quite safe and stable and can be modified to suit your needs.
How they work:
- Feed ingredients comprise various proteins, acids, fats, sugars, fibers, minerals, vitamins, etc.
- Contaminants, metals, stones, strings, paper, wood, and lumps are removed
- The addition of water softens clean ingredients
- Cereals and grains are ground into a fine meal for faster processing
- Weighted quantities of each ingredient are mixed according to specifications
- The ingredients are thoroughly mixed in a batch or flow mixer
- Heat is added to condition them
- Dust generated from this process is returned to the mixture
- When sufficiently conditioned, pressure and compression are applied
- They form a dense mass that retains nutritive value
- The mass is pressed into dies to get the required shape and size
- At this point, the moisture content should be around 16-17%
- Heat and moisture are withdrawn
- Moisture content is brought down to 12%
- The pellets are cooled and dried properly to enable handling and storage
Pellets are categorized according to a durability index. They are deemed better quality if they can withstand repeated handling and moving during bagging, storage, transportation, and moving on feeder lines. These pellets don’t crumble, break or powder into dust.
Factors that affect their quality:
- raw materials used
- particle size
- steam conditioning and moisture
- using thicker dies
- proper cooling and hardening
Types of Pellet Machines
Pellet mills are available in different varieties:
- Standard: used to produce animal and poultry feed pellets
- Aqua-feed: used to produce different types of aquatic feeds
- Flat die: can be used to manufacture food and wood pellets
- Ring die: useful for large scale feed pellet production
Choose the right pellet machine according to your own needs, preferences, capacity requirements, and budget.
- Production capacity:The production rating capacity is available in the manufacturer specs, manual, or label on the machine. When choosing a pellet machine according to production capacity, it’s wiser to choose a slightly higher capacity to provide for future upgrades.
- Crushed raw materials:You can choose either a flat die or ring die type when you choose your pellet mill according to the raw materials you plan to use. If the grass feed concentration is higher, choose a ring die type.
- Animal type:Thicker press dies are more suitable for cattle, sheep, chicken, or pig feed. Thinner dies are better for manufacturing cattle or sheep feed. If grass feed concentration is higher than 50%, your machine will consume more power, so it’s better to be aware of this factor.
- Feed plan or Consumption: A lower cost, flat die pellet machine would suit smaller rural farming households or small/medium feed pellet factories. Large-scale production would require ring die pellet machines with bigger capacity and output, and they are more suited to 24-hour non-stop working in big factories.
- Post-sales support: Ensure that the machine manufacturers offer good after-sales support. That would be the best option if they can supply a stand-by machine while yours gets fixed. These terms must be included in the sales contract, along with the supply of parts and delivery times, so your production doesn’t suffer.
- Direct purchase: It always makes economic sense to purchase directly from the manufacturer. This cuts out the extra overheads charged by agents and intermediaries. It also helps you build and maintain a good working relationship with the manufacturer, keeping you updated on improved technologies, information, and available upgrades.