Smarter Feed To ‘Feed’ The World


“A smarter food system is more productive, less wasteful and more profitable”, a recent article quoted Fred van Heyningen, who is the Global Head of Food and Agri Banking at Rabobank. With the increase in the world population there is a rise in the demand for meat and dairy products consumption. Although the latest United Nation study predicts a slowdown in the rate of population growth, the count will still rise to 9.7 billion mouths needing to be fed by 2050. 

The forecast says that the global animal feed market will grow at a CAGR of 4.92% during 2014-19. With the increase in the demand of high quality animal products, the producers are finding ways to enrich the feed to provide better nutrition to the poultry and livestock industry.
Indian Feed Industry is currently at $15 billion and is predicted to be $30 billion in 5 years, as per recent report by Yes bank.
The industry is said to be growing at a CAGR of 8%. 
An estimated increase in the feed consumption volumes to 28 million tonnes by 2017-18.
Newly Harvested Maize: Challenge to Opportunity
India produces almost 22-23 million of Maize crop which is the principal energy source for poultry and livestock feeds worldwide. Like many countries, including India, maize is usually harvested either with high moisture content to minimize damage in the field or kept in the field for an extended period of time to dry naturally before harvesting. The major Indian states that cultivate and produce maize are Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana and Bihar. 
The many Advantages of High Moisture Maize:
The energy and protein content is more in the High Moisture Maize.
High-moisture maize has the advantage of harvesting early thus avoiding difficulties associated with unfavourable weather condition.
There are no drying costs involved as the wait for the crop to dry on the field naturally is avoided.
Gives the farmers opportunity to cultivate other crops, thus added income.
The crop is thus available at a cheaper price saved from drying and storage expenses.
Handling of High Moisture Maize:
A limited percentage of the high moisture maize is exposed to mechanical drying which carries additional storage & processing equipment cost.
Improperly handled high-moisture maize will result in excessive spoilage resulting into cake and lump formation and storage losses.
As the newly harvested maize is still breathing and producing heat, carbon dioxide and water, it favours fungal growth leading to mycotoxin production, which if used as feed may result in problems like wet droppings, poor feed utilization etc.
Hence the ideal moisture content i.e. below 13% should be considered for its storage. With every 1.5% increase in moisture content, maize deterioration will be doubled.
Processing of high moisture maize
The nutrient content of immature maize can be considerably different than mature maize. It has to be kept in mind that the Maize crop containing more than 14% moisture is difficult to grind as the hammer mill gets choked-up leading to less production of feed per unit of time. 
Therefore, it is recommended to use combination of old and new maize at different proportions depending upon the moisture content before grinding. For example, if maize contains 18% moisture then blends of old and new maize (75:25% ratio) is allowed to hammer mill for easy grinding. Alternatively, combination of de-oiled rice bran and new maize may also be used to minimize the choking effect.
Drying for Better Quality Maize
Natural Drying
The ideal moisture content for storing maize is below 13%. It is thus essential for farmers to dry their grains by means of sun drying to below 13% if they wish to store maize for longer durations.
Dry the maize and store it at least for two weeks after harvesting in order to reduce the non-starch polysaccharides (non-digestible carbohydrates) content in the new maize.
High-moisture maize crop tends to ferment faster and require better bunk management than dry maize. High-moisture maize must be stored in an airtight silo (bunker, silage bags or oxygen-limiting structure). 
Mechanical Drying
Mechanical driers are another option for drying the maize which is recently practiced by many commercial commodity and poultry / livestock companies. These companies have the advantage to procure huge quantities during harvesting season at a much cheaper price, dry it mechanically in large scale and store for their operations. Mechanical drying is a very common practice in developed countries.
Use of anti-fungal compounds is another option for storage of maize for longer duration. The inclusion rate depends on the moisture content of the maize and intended length of storage.
* Prof. G. Devegowda is a Nutritionist, with a Doctorate Degree in Animal Sciences from the University of Minnesota, USA. 
In the upcoming issues of Think Grain Think Feed we will bring up more articles related to Feed Technology. Do write to us about new ideas that we may explore in near future and also your feedback.