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Frequently Asked Questions

What is difference between mash and pellet feed?

Mash feed:
animal feed consists of different ingredients to make a balanced diet in terms of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and medicines etc. in manufacturing of feed in mash form, there are few ingredients like DORB, rice polish etc. which are already available in the powder form, while some of these like grains, fish, GNE, soya etc. are available in solid form and has to be converted to granular form to particle size suitable for the animal. For this purpose grinding of these ingredients is carried out with the help of grinder or hammer mill. After converting all the ingredients in the powder form, these have to mix in right proportions to get the homogenous feed. Mixers are employed for this purpose. So there are two basic operations of grinding and mixing in feed manufacturing of feed in the mash form.

Pellet feed:
pelleting is a process in which mixed feed in powder form is converted into pellets by mechanical compression in combination with moisture and heat. Process is achieved by a set of rolls and die of suitable hole size and shape. As the die & roll rotate, the product passes through the nip of roll & dies and pressed into die holes to make pellets.

Benefits of pelleting?

The process has both the physical and nutritional benefits of it. Among physical benefits, we can count - improved ease in handling, reduced ingredients segregation, less feed wastage and increased bulk density.

Nutritional benefits - Decreased feed wastage, reduced selective feeding, decreased ingredients segregation, less time and energy expended on prehension, destruction of pathogenic organism, thermal modification of starch and protein, improved palatability

Advantages of pellets feed over mash feed?

Both feeds have their own significance and advantages depending upon the breed, flock size and weather conditions. People generally prefer pellet feed over mash in broiler and mash feed in layer birds. Considering standard parameters and desirable conditions few advantages of pellet broiler feed over mash feed are:

  • Pelleting results in a saving of 15-20% of total feed cost.
  • Feed wastage is reduces.
  • Drinking water remains clean in troughs.
  • It is easier for a bird to eat a crumble or pellet than to eat mash.
  • Pelleted feed has a higher nutrient density.
  • Pelleting reduces bulkiness of feed by 15 to 18%.
  • It reduces selective eating by birds.
  • It reduces toxic organisms like salmonella, E coli, etc. during processing.
  • Digestibility of certain nutrients is increased.
  • Birds need less time to consume the feed.
  • FCR: Minimum 0.15 to 0.20 difference in FCR.( for 1 lac broiler farmer – monthly saving = approx. 17 lacs )
  • Minimum 3 % difference in Bone to meat Ratio difference.
  • Minimum 5 % difference in Meat – Live Bird Ratio
  • Approx. 3-4 days difference in ready bird.
Things to be kept in mind while setting a Feed Mill/ Selecting a project:

Selecting a suitable project in terms of Investment, space, capacity, running hours, future plans is very important thing. We have to consider following points before selecting a project:

Project cost:
Many other costs involved in the project other than Feed mill like boiler, transformer, genset, civil work, taxes, transportation, Weigh Bridge, ware house, building construction, working capital etc. Hence considering all the costs in the project report is necessary.

Capacity Utilization:
Minimum 40 % capacity utilization is must for break-even point.

Market study:
Future trends and concentrate of livestock , poultry and other animal production, demand & availability of feed, demand & availability of raw material , grain surplus or deficit area, kind of feed grains grown and fed , future trends in feed potential etc. We can cover approx. 200 kms radially in terms of transportation cost.

Competition in market:
Kinds & prices of feeds sold, credit policy of competitors, services offered to customers, share of local market, man power availability & cost , nature of farmers & traders , discount policy , trend of on-farm grinding and mixing.

Selecting the site:
Condition of roads, availability of power, water and manpower, drainage & nature of soil, water level, federal and local regulations for pollution & air quality, attitude of local people and government towards a new feed manufacturing unit, taxation and subsidy rules etc. All these factors must be taken into consideration while selecting a site for feed mill.

Project Feasibility:
Raw Material + Processing cost + Packaging + over heads = Total Cost of production Where raw materials are grains like Maize, Soya, Mustard, GNE, Cakes, DORB, Oils, Molasses, Medicines, Supplements etc.; processing cost involves Boiler Fuel, Electricity, Labour, Maintenance, general Wear & Tear; packaging cost for PT Bags, overheads are depreciation, bank interest, salaries, promotions & branding etc.
Hence all above factors affects the cost of production and considering all these factors along with working capital, selling price & profits we can easily calculate the project feasibility & return on investment.

Factors affecting pellet quality?

Several factors affect pellet quality, such as dietary nutritional composition, feedstuff particle size, conditioning time and temperature, feed moisture content, compression rate of pellet die, gap between the pellet press roll and die, etc. In addition, the major factors that play an important role in pellet quality are:

Ingredients characteristics like protein content , fat/oil content , fibre content , ingredient variability ( sources like weather , soil, irrigation , fertilizer etc.) , directly affects the pellet quality as hard , fibrous & abrasive materials are difficult to pellet and soft materials are easy to pelletize.
Same machine and die behave differently with different feed ingredients;
Broiler contains less fibers and more oil %age (soft formulation), which provides better pelleting properties, less frictional load on pellet die; on the other side –layer and breeder feed are more dry & fibrous which directly reduces the pelletizing properties.
Formulation factor covers approx. 40 % in pellet quality.

Particle size:
Reducing particle size increases particle surface area relative to its volume, thereby increasing the number of contact sites among particles. This directly increases the penetration of heat and moisture to the centre of the feed particle, consequently reducing heat-treatment time. Better conditioning results in better feed quality and good PDI. This factor covers approx. 15-20% in pellet quality.

Conditioning is essential to obtain good physical quality of the feed. During conditioning, steam breaks down the structure of starch, resulting in its gelatinization, as well as changes protein tertiary structure. Starch gelatinization combined with protein plasticization allows binding among feed particles, and thereby it is important for the manufacturing of durable pellets.
There are different studies relating conditioning with pellet quality and PDI which stated that; temperature, moisture and retention time up to certain limits directly affects the pellet quality. Conditioning controls approx. 15-20% in Pellet Quality.

Die specification:
Selecting a die as per formulation is very important. As Broiler contain less fibers and more oil %age (soft formulation), which provides better pelleting properties, less frictional load on pellet die. Hence, we can use compression ratio of 1:12, 1:13 & even more.
Using high compression ratio for layer feed may leads to poor die life, die chocking, non-uniform PDI, more power consumption in layer feed, low output, more wear & tear.
And using low compression dies in soft broiler formulation may lead to poor PDI (Pellet Durability Index – Pellet Strength) .Considering all above factors using separate die for both layer & broiler feed is a better and cost effective solution. Die selections governs approx. 10-15% in pellet quality.

Cooling & crumbling:
Purpose is to remove moisture and heat generated during the conditioning and pelleting process. Pellet "shock" can occur if air volume or the temperature or humidity of the cooling air is too low, resulting in stress cracks in the pellets. Pellet quality and shelf-life will be reduced if air volume is too low or if the ambient humidity is too high. Improper cooling directly affects the pellet strength which results - increase in percentage of fine. Also improper crumbling increases dust percentage in finish feed. These two factors covers approx.5-10% in pellet quality.

What is PDI?

Pellet quality is usually expressed as the pellet durability index(PDI) and measured by using a tumbling can device , in which the pellet sample to be tested is first sieved to remove fines, then tumbled in the tumbling can device for a defined period of time.
PDI = weigh of pellet after tumbling / weight of Pellet before tumbling x 100

What is coefficient of variation (mixer)

The principal objective in feed mixing is to assure that an animal receives all of its formulated nutrient allowances every day. Most feed manufacturers use the coefficient of variation or CV to measure mixer performance and mixture uniformity. A 5 to 7% CV is the industry standard for most ingredients. The CV is defined as 100 X Standard deviation / Mean.

What is gelatinization?

Gelatinization is defined as the irreversible destruction of the crystalline order in a starch granule so that the surface of every molecule is made accessible to solvents or reactants. As a result of gelatinization of starch, digestibility is improved considerably because:

  • It enhances the ability of starches to absorb large quantities of water and this leads to improved digestibility in almost all cases and to improved feed conversion in many cases.
  • It increases the speed at which enzymes can break down the linkages of starch to convert it into simpler and more soluble carbohydrates, including blood sugars.
Major factors affecting production rate:

Pelleted feed is an outcome of several sub processes of feed milling process. Feed mill productivity depends on those sub processes. Few factors are:

Recipe Management:
It will take around 30-40 minutes to change recipe. It’s better if we run one recipe a shift as it saves lots of time.

Hard formulations (layer & breeder) reduce production capacity of machine while soft formulations are easier to produce. Same machine producing 10 ton/hr. at broiler feed will produce 7-8 ton/hr. at layer & breeder feed.

Power Failure/ Trips:
Machines require a starting time to achieve their full capacity load. One time power failure hampers the production by minimum 20 minutes.

Proper steam of good quality is required for better performance of machines and feed quality. Steam parameters required are:

  • Dry Saturated Steam Minimum 9-10 kg/cm2 at boiler.
  • 2-2.5 Kg/Cm2 after PRV
  • Good & reputed make boiler, Water softener & Chimney.
  • Proper Steam traps, insulation of steam line and supporting valves.

Operational Parameters & Skills:
operational parameters and skill of operator plays an important role in plant performance. Same die with similar technical specifications behaves differently in different pellet mills.
The operator should regularly check the:

  • State of wear on the deflectors and scrapers and also the roll adjustment: To avoid uneven wear on the die and consequently inefficient pelleting.
  • The state of wear of the conditioner paddles: To ensure efficient pre-conditioning.
  • Steam traps and filters: To ensure that no condensate is being passed into the conditioner.
  • Press Roll slippage due to increased moisture content, it leads to die roll over.
  • Observing wearing pattern of die; it is recommended to change the side of die (front side – Back side) for more uniform wear.

Preventive Maintenance:
The primary goal of maintenance is to avoid or mitigate the consequences of failure of equipment. This may be by preventing the failure before it actually occurs which Planned Maintenance and Condition Based Maintenance help to achieve. It generally covers greasing of bearings, tension of elevator belts, cleaning of magnets, running condition of sprockets & chain drives etc.

Man Power Management:
Good results certainly cannot be achieved without the adequate availability of skilled & unskilled manpower. Timely response of labour & supervisors to automation controls , over filling / under filling bins / alarms etc. helps in smooth production.

What is optimum life of spare parts?

Well, “A stich in time saves nine”. Maintenance is an important part of feed mill management. The main purpose of regular maintenance is to ensure that all equipment required for production is operating at 100 % efficiency at all times. It must be a part of the daily schedule.

As we all know, livestock needs feed on daily basis and there is no space for unwanted breakdowns in feed mills. Every feed miller must be aware of the importance of preventive maintenance. For this we developed special checklists & formats in different languages. We run awareness & training programs at Feed Mills to aware the operators regarding maintenance and optimum use of consumable parts. Some time we use the consumable parts more than their standard life but loose much more in feed quality and life of other parts which directly related to them. Like for an average die life cycle it is recommended to use 5 pieces (2.5 set) of roll shells for a better die life and uniform PDI feed quality. Hence using the roll shells & beaters more than recommended life results in great losses in terms of grinding texture, conditioning, pellet quality and specific energy consumption.

How we can save energy in feed mill?

In present times of rising energy prices, shortage of resources, emissions targets and frequent changes in government policies the feed industry is challenged with limiting energy consumption.

Hammer mill and pellet mill consumes more than 70% of the total energy. Optimizing these processes has an immediate effect on energy consumption. Few ways to save energy in a feed mill are as mentioned:

Timely replacement of Spare Parts:
Some time we use the consumable parts more than their standard life but loose much more in feed quality and life of other parts which directly related to them. Like for an average die life cycle it is recommended to use 5 pieces (2.5 set) of roll shells for a better die life and uniform PDI feed quality. Hence using the roll shells & beaters more than recommended life results in great losses in terms of grinding texture, conditioning, pellet quality and specific energy consumption

Operational parameters:
Preventing idle time and down time of machines, better interlocking sequence between machines , switch off transport systems, machines, lighting, heating and ventilation when not in use can save a lot of energy.

Process Parameters: (Moisture addition)
Good quality raw material, (appropriate grain structure, moisture content), fine grinding, better conditioning can lead to an energy saving of up to 20%. During conditioning, moisture diffuses deeper in the feed meal and makes the meal better deformable. Less mechanical energy is required for a good quality uniform pellet

Selection of Hammer mill screens & Pellet Die:
Using perfect die configuration as per formulation like 1:13 or more in broiler feeds having good oil content & soft in structure and 1:10 or 1:11 minimum 3.5 mm hole size in layer /Breeder will give good results with better pelleting properties and save lots of energy during pelleting.
Similarly in hammer mill by matching the screen perforation perfectly to the required structure of the formula energy can be saved. The application of a 3 mm perforation instead of a 2.5 mm perforation may yield a saving up to 15%.

Advantages of Post-Grind system over Pre- Grind in Feed Mills

Pre-grind refers to the storage of individual raw materials after grinding which are held in bins before weighing and mixing in their specific formulation. With post grind, the raw materials are weighed out in batches as required from their main storage bins before each batch is ground prior to mixing.

Both systems have their own advantages & disadvantages as mentioned:

Few Advantages of Pre –Grind Systems

Machine down Time :
In pre –grinding system as grinding process is independent & not an integral part of the complete process; in case of repair and maintenance of hammer mill, there would not be a direct effect on the production output

Ease In operation :
As process is continuous and not depends upon batching time; there is less idle time, more uniform load on hammer mill, most of the time at single product hammer mill runs on single setting. Frequent change of products affects the hammer mill performance in post-grinding systems.

Energy consumption :
As there is no idle time and it is unnecessary for the milling to take place at the same time as the remaining production process which in some cases allows use of the cheaper energy tariffs.

Selection of screen as per product :
we can use: As we grind the material one by one we can use the screen size matching the raw material initial particle size and grinding required.

Post – Grind Systems – Advantages

LessOperational expenses :
In post grinding system no extra intake section for powder ingredients is required, which results in lower investment and operation costs. Also no separate operators are required for the grinding process as grinding operation is an integrated part of the total feed preparation.
While in pre-grind system we need extra material handling equipment’s for powder ingredients which increases the project & running cost.

Bins Capacity :
As ground material occupies more space; high volume of storage bins are required for same storage capacity in case of pre grind system. Hence space utilization of bins is maximum in post grind system.

Grinding of fibrous material :
Maize and some high density grains helps other low density fibrous material ( less in percentage ) to come out through screen ; that would not be possible in pre-grinding system as for low density fibrous materials required to be pulverized.

Life of storage bins :
In Pre Grind system, top layer of ground material in storage bin releases moisture which leads to corrosion/wearing of bin walls & top sheet.

Flowability of Ingredients :
Storing ground ingredients for a longer period of time causes flowability issues; complicate and precise design of batching feeders, weight fluctuation while batching.

Flexibility in required grinding texture :
The fineness of grinding can be adjusted per batch. This is very important when different types of feed are to be produced in one feed mill, e.g. coarse feed for layers, fine feed for broilers and extra fine feed for fish, mash concentrate feed. Sometime clients asked for different grinding textures.

Both systems have been used in the feed milling industry for many years, whereby the choice between one and the other was sometimes purely a matter of personal preference.

The increase in the quantity of raw materials, the variable physical properties as well as the increase of the number of formulas has led to the introduction of the post-grinding system.Considering all factors mentioned above post grinding system now a days is more prevalent and optimum solution for better results.

What are tips to ensure good hygienic feed?

Feed safety and quality are major issues for all feed millers and can have serious consequences when control is lost. A systematic approach is required for reducing risk and improving quality. Few factors that directly affect the feed hygienic are:

Raw material:
The use of suitable, safe and good quality feed ingredients is of paramount importance to livestock production. Safe feed is an essential element to reduce and prevent food safety hazards entering the food chain. Quality and safety of feed ingredients are essential for the production of safe and quality feed, which are critical to the production of safe and quality animal food products, such as meat, milk, eggs, etc. Required parameters like moisture, fungus, protein, silica, fibre etc. must be checked before processing feed ingredients.

Process Control:
Maintaining consistent control over the quality and safety of the finished product requires applying quality assurance procedures at each step of the feed manufacturing process. Procedures have been developed for:

Grinding Operation:
Maintain equipment according to manufacturer’s recommendations, clean magnets daily, Inspect screens and hammers weekly, Check appearance of ground grain, Check screens for holes.

Batching & Mixing:
Check mixer drum, bins, elevator chutes & pits – weekly, Verify flushing procedures, check dry & wet mixing process. Check & clean oil - molasses dosing tanks weekly. Check medicine hopper cleanliness to avoid cross contamination.

Pelleting & Conditioning:
Check moisture and temperature before and after conditioning process, Check cleaning of conditioner drum and paddles- weekly, check steam quality and quantity, PRV, steam trap valves – daily, flushing die before stopping the pellet mill and at the change of formulation. Application of food grade grease & oils. Check boiler parameters and quality of feed water daily.

Moist pellets tend to gain fungus with time. Final feed moisture must be below 11% and temperature should be around +- 5 degree of ambient temperature. Cooler bed, distribution system, bed level, discharge mechanism should be check on regular basis.

Optimum House Keeping:
Care should be taken to minimize deterioration and spoilage at all stages of handling, storage and transport of feed and feed ingredients. Feed spills should be cleaned up immediately. Storage areas for raw materials and finished products should be separated to prevent cross contamination.

Contact Us
I.T.I, Sasoli Road, Jagadhri Workshop, Yamuna Nagar, Haryana-135002. India