In order to produce the best quality animal feed mixture, feed uniformity testing is a necessity to ensure the proper distribution of nutrients, minerals, and additives throughout the food supply given to livestock.
Proper mixing is of the utmost importance in the manufacturing of animal feed, no matter if you’re concerned with the general quality of the product, nutritional adequacy, or the inclusion of supplement material. The principal objective in proper feed mixing is to ensure that your animals receive all of their nutrient allowances every day. The premise for nutritionists formulating rations is that each mouthful of the feed ingested is balanced with regards to the needs of the target animal. Each mouthful delivers the same impact as any other; in short, a perfectly homogenous mixture is the goal.
The feed must deliver necessary nutrients and vitamins to support the animal’s health, growth, production, and maintenance. Additives should be present to provide protection from disease and toxins. And across the board, the levels of all of these substances must be neither deficient (too little) nor toxic (too much). Additionally, there is the risk that when mixing ingredients for animal feed that the various elements will not be distributed evenly throughout the mixture. The best-formulated feed won’t be effective if certain portions have too low a vitamin content, or have too high of an additive ratio.
With proper testing, you’ll know if uniformity — where each ration delivers the needed nutrients and additives — is achieved.
Factors Affecting Mixer and Feed Uniformity Testing
Manufacturing a properly mixed animal feed begins well before the mixing process, with a number of important steps and factors all contributing to the end product uniformity. First, the ingredients must be gathered, then ground and batched into usable material. At the mixing apparatus, there are concerns with the proper ingredient application order and the appropriate mixer filler with dry mix, wet mix, and discharge times. Equipment repair and maintenance need to be accounted for. And lastly, a quality assurance program, including the use of feed uniformity testing, will give data that is key to determining if the mixing itself is adequate.
The entire mixture is affected by various properties of elements involved in the manufacturing process, including variables presented by ingredients, equipment, and management.
Ingredient properties include the measurable effects on the mixture caused by the feed grains (corn, oats, barley, premixes, etc.) that form the bulk of the mixture. The particle size and particle shape, the density of the material, hygroscopicity (ability to absorb or attract water), static charge, and adhesiveness are all variables that need to be considered. Too many large particles, or a lack of adhesiveness, could affect the ability of an additive to be distributed, for example.
Equipment properties can also affect how uniform the animal feed will be. Improperly functioning equipment may not mix as thoroughly as it should. Cleanliness, or the lack thereof, could affect the additives implemented or introduce unwanted contaminants. Even the type of mixing apparatus used — twin shaft, paddle, and ribbon mixers are the most commonly used — need to be accounted for, as each can lead to different end results given the number of other factors involved.
Management properties can also impact the final uniformity of the animal feed. Nutritionists will have a significant impact simply from designing the formulation. But other management decisions — in what order are the ingredients added, over or under filling the mixing machinery, how the mixture is measured and analyzed, for example — will alter and affect the mixture.
With the number of variables involved, it can be difficult to know exactly what kind of uniformity you’ll get at the end of the manufacturing process. This is why feed uniformity testing is vital. You’ll be able to quantify which factors affect the mixture in both a positive and negative fashion and adjust your set of variables accordingly.
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Barrow-Agee Has Proven Uniformity Testing Capabilities
Barrow-Agee Laboratories is a food testing services provider for numerous industries that brings efficiency and accuracy to a broad range of tests for its clients. With extensive experience in food and feed safety testing, Barrow-Agee’s capability to deliver trusted results is proven, certified, and now better than ever, thanks to recent re-investments in upgraded testing equipment and processes.
A new HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) instrument, with MS (Mass Spectrometric) detection, is now part of the Barrow-Agee testing array. Our capabilities here also include fluorescent and UV detection, enabling more options, more accuracy, and more reliability. HPLC is a chromatographic method used to separate a mixture of compounds in analytical chemistry and biochemistry in order to identify, quantify, or even purify the individual components of the mixture.
HPLC will allow for parsing feed or supplement samples for their individual vitamin components — A through E. Also, with the infrastructure additions, Barrow-Agee can test for low or high levels of vitamin components. If your animal feed claims to have at least a base amount of a specific vitamin (be it 4 grams or 4 percent) in its makeup, we can verify it. Both aspects are essential in executing animal feed uniformity testing.
Barrow-Agee can not only quantify the full spectrum of vitamin content, but we can also quantify amounts of essential minerals — such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, etc. — with recently added ICP-OES (Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectroscopy) capabilities. Due to its increased throughput, renowned reliability, and multi-element options, ICP-OES has become widely accepted as an industry-wide standard technique for both research and specific analytical purposes.
Barrow-Agee holds numerous accreditations, certifications, and approvals with national, state, and industry-specific agencies and organizations. Barrow-Agee is ISO/IEC 17025:2017 Accredited and maintains a comprehensive, quality testing program to ensure our services and processes continue to meet customer expectations and regulatory compliance requirements.
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Trust Our Testing for Accurate Results
At Barrow-Agee Laboratories, our team of experts will work quickly and efficiently to make sure your samples are tested and the results sent back to you within the stated turnaround time. We’ll help you maintain operations and make the most of your production process.
Our feed uniformity testing services will offer you a chance to guarantee the distribution of key nutrients and minerals throughout the feed given to your livestock to both improve their health and ensure production levels. Barrow-Agee will check your mixture samples to make sure the mineral content — and other compositional needs like vitamins — is appropriate, balanced, and found in equal proportions throughout the feed.