Digital technology delivers decision-making data for feed formulators

Technology can help determine the best formulation by helping you understand ingredient nutrient levels as they arrive at the feed mill and how to change and adapt the formulation based on how the nutrient levels change.

Vinicius Chiappetta
Global Digital Commercial Director
Cargill

As new consumer demands and regulations arise, feed formulation complexity increases, as does the need to better optimize the cost of feed. In addition, animal welfare and sustainability variables must be considered in the formulation process. To make the best decisions, the use of digital solutions is key. Still, it may seem like too many digital technologies to wade through to deploy confidently for feed formulation.

Technology can help determine the best formulation by helping you understand ingredient nutrient levels as they arrive at the feed mill and how to change and adapt the formulation based on how the nutrient levels change. Technology can help you use this data to select the best and most reliable suppliers to deliver the precise formulation needed for animals.

But before tech deployment, you must be mindful of your overall strategy. Look at how you reach your customers, consider the ingredient market, and explore all the scenarios available to optimize margins. In some cases, a formulation might be more expensive, but this will drive more results and profitability. Or you may need to build a diet that has less carbon output. Whatever digital solution you deploy should align with that strategy.

Here are some technologies helpful for feed formulation:

Digitalized mycotoxin data: Tap into a large dataset tied to species, region, and ingredient to solving one of our industry’s biggest ongoing systemic threats. You can access a comprehensive report for free taken from more than 300,000 data points through Cargill’s world mycotoxin report.

Near-infrared technology (NIR): Use NIR to precisely estimate and analyze the nutritional levels of different animal feed ingredients to formulate diets more precisely. Today NIR is available through benchtop NIRs, handheld NIRs and inline NIRs. In addition, NIR analytics and mathematical modeling advancements are now connected to the NIR instruments to measure nutrient digestibility, a better predictor of nutrient availability that supports faster and more efficient growth.

Precision nutrition platforms: Get real-time, accurate data that uses extensive research and development expertise. This data supports mathematical models to precisely calculate nutrient levels of ingredients beyond traditional NIR analysis for more precise nutritional design and formulation. These platforms can help optimize costs and deliver better feed quality while complying with the regulatory requirements used for complete feed.

Cloud platforms: Centralize your operations’ capabilities by connecting datasets from the whole value chain together. This will move you toward real-time data and automation and ensure everyone is working with the same information. Because all digital nutritional solutions are integrated into one and saved to secure cloud systems. This also helps streamline the process, giving you faster day-to-day formulations.

Strategic decision-making and scenario planning software: Simulate the business impact of strategic decisions through software-aided modeling that considers the effect of multiple variables on animal nutrition and production. This helps you to go beyond least cost formulation and animal performances to also consider newer inputs to the equation like animal welfare, sustainability metrics, or manufacturing parameters to improve the total margin of the company based on their specific needs. Having digital capabilities that will enhance the prediction of animal health and performance outcomes is a game changer.

Real-time formulation: Further leverage NIR technology to automatically read nutrient levels of feed ingredients at the feed mill production line and adjust feed formulation for every batch to minimize variability of feed produced and save costs.

Leveling up technology for the future: You see the various technologies becoming a reality today, and these options continue to grow as the market needs change. Producers are constantly asked to do more with less, and your needs are the same as a feed formulator. To keep up with the demands of your customers and the requirements of consumers who are focused on a sustainable future, doing more with less is also critical to your operation’s future. Digital tools can help get you there, and if the technology doesn’t exist today, it is likely under development and will be available in the future. Keeping a pulse on the latest technology and partnerships that can help you deploy them will make you more profitable. And being open to unique technologies that align with your strategy will ensure the best nutrition decisions are made now and into the future.

About Vinicius Chiappetta
Vinicius is Global Digital Commercial Director for global strategic marketing, sales and customer success in Cargill’s digital solutions division, and supports animal nutrition and farm management. He is also on the board of Agriness, a Cargill-invested company focusing on precision farming for swine. Currently based in Milan, Italy, Vinicius originates from Brazil and holds a civil engineering degree from São Paulo University.