Getting the big picture in feed production ask Brazilian poultry integrators how they can gain dividends in improved meat output, using in-line process control at their feed production plants

By Richard Mills,

It’s complex.

As a feed producer you may have around seven or eight ingredients flowing into your mixer. Too complex for in-line process control you might think, but broiler Integrators such as RICA ALIMENTOS LTDA and FRIGORÍFICO FRINAL S/A in Brazil are already enjoying the benefits of optimising high-volume feed production runs.

“We are using in-line process control with NIR to optimize the formula with the best possible minimal cost using the latest 20 measurements as the basis,” said Mr João Batista – Production Manager. “It is worthwhile for us because we can stay unconcerned about quality changes – mainly corn, because we know that the in-line process control system will identify any significant variation.”

The thoughts are echoed by owner Mr. Henrique Iagara. “Since we implemented the system we can see how much we were losing per ton feed produced for not adjusting the formula whenever possible,” he said.

How it works

The system needs several elements to come together like a well-functioning team. These can be summarised as an in-line NIR system predicting nutrient profile on ingredients, feed formulation software using those NIR results, interface communicating feed formula adjustments into the feed production process, and, not least, an overall ‘big-picture’ approach from the integrator investing in the system.

The NIR process measurement is perhaps the simplest part. NIR process control solutions are now widely used in the food and grain industry. Current in-line NIR instruments are robust enough to be placed exactly where the measurement is required, for example, just ahead of the mixer, regardless of vibration, humidity and so on.

With more and more powerful computer and software systems becoming available, the complex feed formulation aspect of feed process control is now also a reality. A suitable software system can take a retrospective view of the NIR measurements, for example, protein from main ingredients going into the feed mix and calculate adjustments going forward that will move feed production closer to target. So, if an eight hour run is just starting, the system will use the first half hour to figure out what is the actual nutrient profile of ingredients used in that day’s feed production and the next seven and half hours to keep output closer to target based on moving average calculations. Currently, such systems can handle the high volume and limited number of feed formulations typically involved in the poultry or pig integrator business.

And it must also be possible to make adjustments at the right time in the right place. This creates certain demands on the machinery involved.

Improved feed conversion rate with less costs – sometimes

Finally, the approach of the user needs to be holistic and far-sighted.

The sort of process control system discussed here is all about improving feed conversion rate at animal performance and not just cost reduction in feed production. For example, getting a chicken ready for the market in 35 days instead of 39 is a positive result that comes among other factors, from an optimal feed quality over time. Process analysis can help to secure that feed nutrient consistency while also minimising the cost of ingredients, but of course, depending on the variability of price in your market.

In this big picture, it appears that NIR in-line process control has an important role to play for poultry /pig integrators seeking an optimal feed to meat process economy. Continuous variation in raw material nutrient content is a fact, but animal’s nutrition requirements per growth period are fixed, so why not use this constant as the target of the feed production process?

4 Responses

  1. Jayson Conway

    Perfect summery of the project. I have seen personally both instalations and can assure that the profits for this inovative moving average feed formulation aplication is not only the future of feed production it is TODAY!! Congratulations for the article

  2. f2care

    I am wondering why you always losing per ton feed produced for not adjusting the formula whenever possible. Theoretically, 50% of the adjustments will cost you money since you have to reduce the nutritional specs of your feedstuffs.
    This story has two sides of the coin !
    regards, Kees Geerse (nutritionist-NLD)

  3. LauraLoc

    Actually in this particular case from Brazil, they are able to decide when they need to switch to an alternative diet formula composition from current one being manufactured just 20 minutes after the first batch of production. This means, they can always match final nutritional feed specifications (if they decide to do so) and by this secure animal performance.
    I don’t see they have to reduce the nutritional specs but rather prepare in advance alternative feed formulas with slightly different ingredient  composition to get the most out of the incoming corn and soybean meal nutrient profile of a given production day. Final feed cost of such given formula may not be cheaper always but as a broiler integrator, you do care about the final chicken cost and feed quality consistency plays a key role to obtain better FCR.
    Rgds, Laura Locatelli (Int. Market Manager Feed at FOSS)


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