THE EFFECTS OF EXTRUSION ON HEAT SENSITIVE INGREDIENTS

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When it comes to extruding complete diets such as pet food, fish feed or something like pig starters that have multiple ingredients, close attention should be given to how ingredients react to the extrusion process. Certain ingredients can be adversely affected by heat and pressure generated during extrusion. In this blog, I’m going to go over a few examples to give you an idea of what can happen to ingredients and ways to remedy or minimize the effects.

The most important ingredients that can be affected by extrusion are vitamins. Vitamins can be somewhat fragile with short shelf life even without being subjected to extrusion. One example is Vitamin C, which is especially sensitive to heat. The loss experienced during extrusion can be overcome by formulating 25% over the normal dosage. Another option is to use what is known as protected vitamin C. There are several on the market that work well with extrusion. Protected vitamin C was originally designed for use in pellet mills because it has a protective coating that lessens the adverse effects of heat and pressure. Another way to prevent affecting the quality of your vitamins, in some cases, can be by adding them in post-extrusion with a mixer or sprayed on. In other cases, like shaped products, they need to be suspended in the pre-extruded mix. It’s usually best to consult with the company that manufactures your vitamins with concerns associated with your process because they can provide information about vitamin stability as it relates to your needs.

Another example of ingredients that do not tolerate extrusion heat and pressure are probiotics. As probiotics are live bacteria, they do not survive the extrusion process. Post application is the only way to include probiotics in your finished product without negatively affecting its quality. Often the probiotic is suspended in a liquid or possibly a vegetable oil and sprayed on – similar to post application of fat to pet foods.

When it comes to including a variety of ingredients into your formulation, you must not only take into consideration their sensitivity to heat and pressure but also how that can affect the quality of your end product.

TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF AFRICAN FOOD PROCESSORS

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Much of the food that we eat has been processed by small & medium enterprises, often family-owned. It is no different in Africa. The food giants are present, but most food companies are family affairs.

Finding finance to expand production or to launch a new product is exceptionally hard in Africa. There are many obstacles in the process such as the following:

Logistics
Bad roads, heavy traffic, inexistent or dysfunctional rail systems, snail’s pace customs procedures, inadequate computer systems, theft, etc.

Seeds
Food starts with seeds including vegetable, fruit and crop seeds. Many African countries have no seed banks, and very few seed scientists or properly-funded research facilities that as a result, yields are low and quality can be poor. This makes it cheaper to import crops like maize from South America instead of buying from the country next door.

Standards & Regulations
Food trade is based on agreed standards, such as governmental standards, international standards like ISO and increasingly, retailer (supermarket chain) private standards. Many African food companies lack knowledge, laboratory equipment and staff to be able to adhere to buyers’ standards, so they are excluded from lucrative regional or international markets.

Skills
A blend of on-the-job practical training and formal classroom learning is considered the best preparation for future food industry executives. Many African food processors have no formal trainee development program and they do little to encourage their workers to develop their skills.

Mergers and acquisitions in Africa fell almost 30% in 2016. Private equity funds are all hunting for deals and are now starting to focus on family-owned businesses with succession problems – the founders are retiring and their children have gone abroad, for example. Sometimes, the children are taking over and want to expand the business quickly.

The favorite targets for private funding are consumer goods, real estate, financial services, energy and infrastructure. Agribusiness and food industry deals do happen from time to time, but for most food companies, finance means a bank loan at punishing interest, if you can provide the collateral.

Partnerships between local and foreign companies, which we are beginning to see in the animal feed and aquaculture sectors, offer a way out of this ‘Catch-22’ situation. The local company knows the territory and customer preferences, while the foreign partner can inject skills, capital and managerial discipline.

Food companies in Africa need to devote more time to building their value-chains, building a strategic vision and developing and rewarding their staff. Finding financing options in Africa can be a challenge, but with the help of a great partner, you can find resources together to allow your business to grow.

ARE SPECIALTY BY-PASS PROTEIN PRODUCTS OVER HYPED?

duncan-by-pass-blog-image-940x626Since the middle 1980’s the dairy industry has been sold a variety of soy products including hydrolyzed feathers, distiller’s grains and blood meal to optimize production of high producing cows. The theory by the makers of by-pass protein was that since solvent soybean meal had only 36% by-pass protein (protein that would not be utilized in the rumen), their product(s) would be rumen protected and digested in the small intestine.

These products, with by-pass protein values from 60% to over 70%, saw results that validated the manufacturers’ claims. These by-pass proteins were being fed from 1-5 lbs. per cow per day.

Total emphasis was placed on the products’ ability to by-pass the rumen, but total digestibility in the intestine was not known. Most of the by-pass products commanded premium pricing and this special by-pass protein industry has grown for the past 30 years. Some of these “hyped” products are deficient with rumen degradable protein. That degradable protein is critical for proper rumen function.

From the late 20th century and up to current times, the ethanol industry with their by-product of distiller’s grains has offered their product with high by-pass (74%). Considered a low-cost ingredient the ethanol distillers have provided an ingredient with corn-based amino acid profiles. This factor would limit feeding of distillers due to the commonly high levels of corn already being fed. Some of the challenges for the distillers are the variability of quality from a variety of sources.

Over the past 25 years, there has been naturally processed (hexane-free) soybean meal, that can provide highly digestible protein, a moderate level of by-pass protein (49.5%-52%) and a total tract digestibility of 94%. Extruded soybeans, followed by mechanical oil extraction can easily replace higher priced specialty by-pass proteins, soybean meal (solvent, hexane-processed), distiller’s grains and roasted products. In addition, the use of partially defatted extruded/expelled soybean meal can simplify dairy TMR mixes. This type of ingredient can be fed up to 8-9 lbs. per cow while eliminating many or all of these specialty protein products. In addition, it is not uncommon to see 3-5 lbs. milk/cow increases, milk fat and protein content also increases; all while lowering the total feed costs of $0.15-$0.20 per cow per day.

It appears that a number of the high by-pass products may be overpriced and over-hyped! Dairy producers could benefit financially from trying Soy Meal!!

TEXTURED SOY PROTEIN

NO SOY? NO PROBLEM.

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Feed mills in Latin America, including Ecuador, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic, there is a lack of soy availability in these countries, that are for the most part, non-soy producers. They import solvent-extracted soybean meal, and there are very few, if any soybean extrusion plants. One might conclude from this that there is no opportunity. On the contrary, we see huge potential for soybean extrusion and pressing in these countries. For one, we are talking about two different products with two different profiles. Solvent Extracted SBM has less than 1% oil, and the oil it has is mainly a low-quality soapstock, while soybean meal, contains a very stable, high-quality oil. Also, because soybean meal has 6-8% residual oil, no oil needs to be purchased in order to satisfy the requirements of most feed formulations.
 
Now that we know that we are talking about two different products, let us look at the economics.
 
Currently, the price of April ’16 soybeans on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) is $354 per metric ton. Crude soybean oil is $748. SBM is $327. The cost of freight of the beans and SBM, depending on volume may vary, but for this exercise, let’s say freight is the same. Therefore, you need to determine your selling cost for soybean meal and to do this you must consider the 6-8% residual oil value and the increased digestibility of the meal. After you have your selling price, you can determine your profit before expenses. The next step is to consider inputs, such as electricity and labor costs. These variable expenses can be different from country to country, so you need to determine the cost per kwH and labor cost per ton to determine profitability after expenses
 
For integrators, we have seen they are looking at the superior quality of the meal that allows their animals to grow faster and healthier. In simple terms, the animals grow faster and produce more (eggs and milk) often while eating less feed. For Feed Millers, they are looking at cost vs. SBM and pricing it according to the meal’s relative value as a superior product.
 
For all of you that live in non-soy producing countries, we challenge you to look at the opportunity, look at the economics, and look to your internal or external customers and see if moving toward extrusion is the answer to increased production and profitability.

DON’T LET FEAR KEEP YOU OUT OF THE GROWING PET FOOD MARKET

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In a recent blog by Adam Sackett, he pointed out how high growth rates are for pet food in developing countries. Double-digit growth is being realized in many places as more consumers have pets and want to buy, rather than make, quality foods to feed them.
 
Getting into any industry can seem overwhelming. Even though Quadro Alloys can manufacture the perfect-sized extruder for entering into pet food markets, this is only one part of the process.
 
The following is a brief description of each major step along the way:
 
Develop an appropriate complete pet food formulation – you need someone with nutritional training for this part
Make sure this product is capable of being extruded. If no one knows, consider process development R&D
Source all of the ingredients you will need for this formulation and appropriately store on site – understand normal variation of the major nutrients with each ingredient.
Add the correct amount of each ingredient into a mixer and blend (note: it may be necessary to grind the diet, without vitamins and minerals, to a finer particle size)
Convey to intermediate storage before controlled feeding into the preconditioner and extruder for cooking and shaping
Dry and cool to a moisture level that will allow long-term storage, while minimizing nutrient damage from the drying process
Screen to remove fine particles
Fats/oils are now surface coated to the kibble to increase the energy content of the diet and make it more appealing
Convey to intermediate storage before bagging the finished kibble for sale
If all of this seems daunting, don’t worry. Quadro Alloys has expertise that goes back many decades, which includes operating a commercial pet food plant and working with pet food start-ups.
 
Research performed at Four Rivers Kennel in Missouri shows how important this is. The “first bite” test is conducted to measure preference – which diet (both were made using a Medium Shear Extruder) was chosen to be consumed before the other one?
Interestingly, the dog kibble containing extruded/pressed soy meal was actually preferred over a more traditional dog formulation without any soy.
 
In other work, stool scores – indicators of digestion – were measured. This time, a wet extruder (often used to make pet food) was also used to make one of the treatments.
Stool score (optimum is a score of 3) was not affected by either diet (control vs. soy meal) or extruder type – in practical terms, the dogs did not have diarrhea or hard stools with any diet or extruder.
 
Quadro Alloys has you covered with plant design, product development, extrusion, services after the sale and everything in between. Allow us to ease your initial fears as we help you enter the growing market for pet food, give us a call.

ESTIMATING BULK DENSITIES OF MIXED PRODUCTS

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Bulk density is an important metric in many things such as bagging or conveying. Many websites and resources feature bulk densities of known products such as whole soybeans, ground soybeans, corn, etc, but what do you do if you’re trying to determine something new? There are several times when you may have to decide on a mixer or bin capacity that will contain several different products with different bulk densities. How would you calculate this? With some simple math and some patience, you’ll be able to determine these answers.

What You Need
To start, you will need to know some existing densities of products. As mentioned, there are several resources that have a good range of known products.
As an example, let’s assume we have a formula with the following blend percentage for 1 ton (2000 lbs) of final product:
– Coarse cracked corn: 70% (1400 lbs)
– Ground soybeans: 20% (400 lbs)
– Cracked wheat: 10% (200 lbs)
From various sources, we know the following estimates:
– Coarse cracked corn bulk density: 40 lbs/cubic foot
– Ground soy bulk density: 35 lbs/cubic foot
– Cracked wheat bulk density: 45 lbs/cubic foot

How to Calculate
An easy method is to multiply the bulk density by their respective percentages, then add everything together.
– Coarse cracked corn: 70% x 40 lbs = 28 lbs
– Ground soybeans: 20% x 35 lbs = 7 lbs
– Cracked wheat: 10% x 45 lbs = 4.5 lbs
Adding these together gives an estimated bulk density for the product of 39.5 lbs/cubic foot.
You can do this for as many ingredients as you have by using the same methods described above and then adding the values together.
If you are interested in an alternative method, you can do the following:
– Take the individual weight of each ingredient,
– Determine the total volume of all ingredients, and then
– Take the total weight divided by the volume
This will give a slightly different value, but the difference is negligible. If you have any questions regarding bulk density calculations, give us a call, we’re here to help!

ENERGY IN, PERFORMANCE OUT

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Animals are driven to seek and consume food energy every day – this makes it possible for normal activities, such as growing and walking, to happen. Food energy is also critical in supporting “higher-performance” activities. When athletes engage in rigorous physical activity, their energy needs increase because of the extra work being done by their muscles.

The same is true for “higher-performance” livestock animals, such as dairy cows. To allow dairy cows to produce more milk, more food energy must be supplied. Larger cows require more energy at the same performance level, simply to maintain normal functions.

When considering that food energy is the largest cost of feeding livestock, on an absolute basis, two things become obvious:

Diets should be formulated to meet, but not exceed, the energy requirement.
Extracting energy from an ingredient is imperative (considering the economics of doing the extracting, of course).
Processing is one of the best ways to liberate energy. Extruders do this very thing – allow animals to extract more energy from the same unit mass of an ingredient.

So far, this all seems fairly simple. However, consider the following:

Reducing the extrusion temperature by 50oC has been shown to reduce the energy in soybeans available to poultry by about 7%.
So, processing without quality controls is asking for variation in energy values.
Experiments with animals to determine energy data are expensive and time-consuming, and so, nutritionists will formulate diets using prediction equations or table values, which may not reflect what is happening in the animal, or what is happening with a process.
Age of the animal, stage of production, individual animal variation, environmental factors – all affect energy needs and must be considered.
It must be clear how data is expressed and used – is the moisture content of the ingredient considered (dry matter vs. as-fed basis)? How is the energy value expressed (Gross energy versus metabolizable energy)? What energy use by animals cannot be accounted for accurately, or at all, and how is this uncertainty dealt with?
An example can be seen by going back to the chart on energy requirements of dairy cattle (above), and comparing these predicted energy requirements to published data on actual energy levels in the diet and milk production (Broderick, 2003). The prediction from the chart underestimated energy requirements, from 2.2 megacalories per day (at 69 lbs. milk production per day), to 0.32 megacalories per day (at 81 lbs. milk production per day). In this case, using a prediction energy equation would have limited milk production – although keep in mind that some estimations were used to formulate the diets, too.

In conclusion, using ingredients to supply energy to animals is an art, as well as a science. In the beginning, gather as much information as you can, and then, the animals will tell you a lot once you start feeding them.

IMITATION IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF FLATTERY

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We are living in an era where imitations and copycats are fact of life. Some of us are tempted to invest in a knockoff item if we perceive that it will function just like the original, but at lower cost to us.

Most of the time, we are disappointed with either the performance of the imitation or its durability. The main objective of a copycat entity is to make the item look like the original. In most cases, not much attention is paid to the functionality or the durability of the copy.

Our business of extrusion is not an exception, we hear sad stories from some customers who invested in knockoff extruders that did not deliver the quality of product they were anticipating and reached a conclusion that they need to go back to the original to keep their business alive.

Using genuine original wear parts for an extruder to achieve the followings:

Targeted quality of the finished product
To assure safety of operation
Reduce the cost and add to the bottom line savings.
The fact that many original brand extruders and their wear parts have been copied by companies in China, the Ukraine, South Africa and other countries. These copy extruders are offered to the market with a very attractive price and as if they are one and the same as the original.

A study conducted showing the hidden cost of using imitation parts as compared with the original. The study focused on an Extruder part’s durability.

The study documented the following facts about the imitation parts relative to the original:

North American competitor wore 33% faster
African competitor wore 167% faster
Asian competitor wore 633% faster
Latin American competitor wore 900% faster
Although the cost of the imitation parts is less than the cost of the original parts, the total cost to the end user is much higher due to:

Inferior quality of extruded products
Higher capital cost of frequently replaced imitation parts
More repair and maintenance
Lack of safety assurances
What was not measured here, is the quality of extruded products and their relative value. Having an extruder is one thing and producing the quality product is another. It is typical of an original extruder manufacturer to provide on demand guidance, recommendations, service and help from their engineers, nutritionists, technicians and sales force to advance the quality and value of the extruded products.

As we shop for prices, sometimes we come up winners and most of the time we get what we pay for.

SAVE MONEY ON A CREATIVE PROTEIN SOURCE

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As protein ingredient options become more and more expensive, alternative ingredients are sought to control feed cost. One option has been the use of Urea as a source of non-protein nitrogen (NPN) for ruminant micro flora.

Since the early history of its utilization, it became clear that some of the short-comings of feeding urea are:

Its rapid hydrolysis into ammonia.
The physical properties of the product when used in high protein supplements.
Toxicity can be an issue if urea is not mixed well.
And the failure to adapt animals to diet slowly, especially the first few days it is fed.
To overcome those limitations, a slow release ammonia product was developed where Urea and a grain such as corn, wheat, milo or barley are extruded in a high shear, dry extrusion. The heat generated by friction in the extruder results in the grain starch gelatinization while the urea melts and is encapsulated. After extrusion, the product is cooled, cured and ground to be used as a supplemental protein for all ruminants.

There is a product that has made it possible to utilize all non-protein nitrogen as a supplementary protein in a dry form that can be handled in a conventional feed mill and in conventional forms: pellets, blocks or cubes.

The gelatinized starch serves as an energy source as it is converted into fatty acids in the rumen while the nitrogen fraction is converted to ammonia for the production of microbial protein. The microbial protein is then transported to the abomasums where it becomes amino acids and is absorbed and utilized.

Although different ratios of starch bearing material and NPN can be successfully extruded, the protein equivalent of this product is 60%. Such a product can compete with many natural sources of protein for ruminants with an economical advantage.