Dealing with variations in feed

The extremely volatile RM price situation due to various reasons has resulted in a huge spike in livestock feeding costs and this seems to be not coming down ever. Complicating this is ingredient quality issues varying from natural inherent antinutritional factors to intentional adulteration. The biggest challenge for the feed manufacturers is to absorb these extremely volatile prices and quality deviations into a formulation which is most often not achieved due to a lack of awareness. Nutritionists play a major role in this context by just not doing desktop formulations but working on inventories (stocks and prices) and advising purchase decisions to feed millers along with formula cost and nutrient optimization. Total overhauling of feed mill quality control systems to absorb effectively the inevitable quality deviations, and application of newer technologies like NIR for quicker and safer decisions is the need of the day. Feed mill processing is one area that needs to be aligned for these quality deviations of ingredients as every change in formula impacts feed mill efficiency and this is even more complicated in the Indian situation where in too many climate changes pose a big challenge to consistently produce a quality finished good.
Settling down energy sources, protein sources, and feed additives at all-time high prices has compelled nutritionists to consider all alternative ingredients and additives without proper understanding that response to these aggressive decisions has cost them even more!!! It is inevitable that there is no other way but to use alternative ingredients but parallel there is a dire need to have control over what we do.
In a recently conducted Feed Pathshala, a panel discussion organized during Feed Tech Expo on 12th October at Pune, discussed the same topic to find out answers. The session was moderated by Prof. G. Devegowda, including expert panelists from the Commodity side (Mr. Nagaraj Meda – MD, TransGraph Consulting), Expert practicing nutritionist (Dr. Manju – AVP, Japfa Comfeed India), Feed additives and Amino acids (Dr Saikat Saha, Evonik India), Feed milling experts (Mr. Rathnakar Shetty from Ace feeds and Mr. K. Satish from Kemin industries).
Professor Devegowda, set the baseline for the session broadly briefing current burning challenges particularly commodities influencing livestock production /feed costs to extremely high & extremely volatile patterns
Mr. Nagaraj, outlined current key factors influencing the global supply-demand of corn elaborating reasons such as the current geopolitical crisis (Russia – Ukraine war), fertilizers supply issues, shifting dietary patterns, the effect of crude oil supplies, value of USD & persistent logistic issues, Indian government policies particularly related to export and imports, ethanol production using cereal grains. The current outlook seems to be not rosy in the near future looking because of various reasons. He also briefedon fluctuating international policies on Palm oil (especially in Indonesia) have influenced the Indian oil industry tremendously. He also elaborated supply-demand gap between agricultural output.
Taking further from this topic of commodity high price trends and supply issues, Prof. Devegowda asked the industry experts about current challenges and mitigation strategies for the benefit of the feed millers.
Increased use of alternative ingredients is the outcome of these price challenges which has reduced Soyabean meal usage from 25% average levels to 20%. A big shift in the usage of ingredients like DDGS (rice), Rape seed meal, maize gluten, Sunflower extraction, til cake, GN cake, rice by-products, etc. have caused this shift in SBM consumption patterns. Also, alternative cereals to corn like broken rice, Bajra, and wheat have come into formulations
This shifting trend towards the high application of alternate protein meals and cereals has posed some major challenges to the industry particularly absorbing ingredient analytical variations at the feed mill level, Feed mills’ multiple inventory handling issues, feed processing issues, and field issues particularly palatability issues at farm levels
Dr. Manju briefed “Rice DDGS is currently a potential ingredient currently used @ 3-5% level and has tremendous potential for increased usage in coming years due to the fact that it is going to be increasingly available in the market as a byproduct of ethanol production (from cereals is going to increase in multiple folds). Closely working with manufacturers for supply consistency, for maintaining purity of grains being used (consider single cereal DDGS source instead of mixed grain DDGS) for getting stable analytical values for feed millers application, for reducing heat damage and drying issues, etc. Improvement in processing techniques in close association suppliers will greatly reduce analytical deviations and improve nutrient availability and in turn significantly increase in inclusion levels in feed formulation.
Dr. Saikat briefed on how NIR spectroscopy can be a very effective tool to absorb ingredient variations when used effectively at feed mills. Along with the proximate analysis, total and digestible amino acids, the amount of heat damage of thermally processed ingredients (AMINORED), and Energy values become readily available to feed mills. Each and every vehicle can be screened for this data, can be pooled in feed mills based on analysis and data can be utilized in the formulation. Also, acceptance and rejection decisions become easier when we have fully functioning NIR in feed mills. Also absorbing variations from animal protein sources like MBM, poultry by-product meal along with TVBN values for the extent of damage is effectively possible with NIRS.
Feed processing gets hugely impacted when we start using a lot of alternate ingredients. Mr. Rathnakar Shetty and Mr. Satish added the quality of starch and protein in ingredients influence smooth and effective pelleting and product quality, all areas of production like grinding particle size profile, conditioning retention time, cooler settings need special attention when we are using alternatives. example – when we are using wheat, pelleting becomes relatively easier with better PDI in finished goods but may need a coarser grinding particle size adjustment for better utilization of wheat as an alternative to corn. Conditioner moisture gain can be an issue when we use relatively drier ingredients. So effective moisture optimization program can give benefits. Bone particle size in MBM can eat up die so precautions need to be taken.
Professor Devegowda when asked the expert panel about handling the high oil price situation for feed products, the expert panel said it is not always the oil percentage that can be kept at minimum high levels. One needs to be flexible in oil inclusion in feed. Once the minimum effective oil dose for smooth pellet mill running is fixed, the rest of the oil usage can be on the least cost basis. Usage of high-energy ingredients like SBM50%, DDGS, Maize gluten, rice polish, Full fat Soya, suitable Emulsifier, low-energy diets, etc. can significantly reduce oil inclusion in feed.
Professor Devegowda briefed about the global phosphate crisis and how it impacted the livestock industry particularly due to DCP and MCP prices, and challenges in quality supplies. The expert panel discussed various options for mitigating phosphorous cost pressure like going for phytase super dosing, especially after care full consideration of phytate phosphorous availability from ingredients in formulations. Usage of alternate ingredients has a general trend of increased Phytate phosphorous levels and phytase super dosing can be more beneficial both in terms of better phosphorous release and also better nutrient availability. Also, careful consideration of phosphorous sources, especially taking timely &cost-based calls from different sources like DCP, MCP and MBM will help to minimize mistakes. Managing forced adulteration at the feed mill level specially adulteration with cheaper ingredients like LSP in DCP and MCP is key when there is a huge crisis of DCP.
The expert panel discussed Global feed additive chain disruption especially vitamins, amino acids, and fermentation by-products. Great interdependency among countries creates tremendous pressure on consumer countries due to the current geopolitical crisis. Since vitamins and amino acids are inevitable in formulations, only timely inventorying with a close watch on the global supply situation is key. The situation is going to remain the same since production centers are limited.
Dr. Saikat commented – from the Indian context, cost-effective branched-chain amino acids are still expensive in India. When there is a big protein source crisis, the adoption of low-protein diets can be a good cost saver as it is a very well-established fact that low-protein diets work well if we balance all amino acids properly. In that situation, BCAA will come feasible and equally effective in formula application.
2-hour discussion was highly appreciated by the audience and the event was concluded with a memento ceremony.