Due to moisture losses, feed mills are selling feed which is costing them more and not necessarily providing better performance at farm level. In our current economic climate, raw materials are scarce and expensive, and energy costs are rising on a monthly basis. Feed millers and integrators need to be looking at efficiencies. It is essential to responsibly manage moisture levels to ensure a reduction of unnecessary wastage…
Moisture management in animal feeds is an extremely important issue that affects many factors such as production, operation and animal nutrition efficiency. Today, industry representatives, scientists and nutritionists often talk about why optimal moisture content in feed is important for both the feed manufacturer and the animal breeder. They conduct research on what can be done to ensure and maintain the optimum moisture level in feed.
The collaboration between Devenish and Perstorp is one of them. They have recently launched SmartMoisture, a patented moisture management technology, and one of the cutting-edge innovations in its field. Thanks to its unique content, SmartMoisture encourages the absorption of moisture and ensures that the moisture level is maintained during the milling process.
Janus Fouche, Product Manager for SmartMoisture at Devenish, emphasizes that moisture loss reduces feed efficiency. He explains the importance of moisture in the production process, losses due to insufficient moisture and the new SmartMoisture technology for our readers.
Mr. Fouche, first of all, can you tell us about the importance of moisture management in feed production? What are the possible problems that may occur due to moisture during and after feed production?
Moisture or water which naturally occur in raw materials or which are added to feed should be considered as an ingredient just like maize, soya and wheat. It is part of the nutritional specification of feed. If moisture is not included as intended, feed millers will fill that space with more expensive raw materials.
Storage facilities are designed to dry raw material, with low humidity, ambient temperatures and grinding all contributing to significant moisture losses.
There is a perception that the lower the moisture content in feed, the more concentrated the nutrients would be and it should lead to better feed conversion ratio (FCR). However, research has shown a significant increase in feed efficiency (FE) for broilers from 3-to-6-weeks gained through moisture additions to mash feed in the mixer (Source: Moritz et al). This is attributed to better starch gelatinisation, digestibility, and pellet quality.
Therefore, by losing moisture, feed conversion rates will fall. It is also well documented that dryer feed is less efficient at absorbing steam in the cooler, it slows down throughput and increases energy consumption in the pelleting press.
How much is the estimated loss/wastage in global animal feed due to moisture related problems?
It is documented that losses can vary from 1-3% depending on the weather conditions and friction during the milling process. In extreme conditions, we have witnessed losses of up to 6%. In essence, the world’s feed industry is losing 12 million to 40 million tons of saleable feed.
What can you say about the extra burden and losses brought by the moisture management problems to the feed mills/enterprises?
Due to moisture losses, feed mills are selling feed which is costing them more and not necessarily providing better performance at farm level. In our current economic climate, raw materials are scarce and expensive, and energy costs are rising on a monthly basis. Feed millers and integrators need to be looking at efficiencies. It is essential to responsibly manage moisture levels to ensure a reduction of unnecessary wastage, and increased milling efficiencies, through improvements in throughput and a reduction in electricity consumption.
Devenish, along with Perstorp, has recently launched a new moisture management tool, SmartMoisture. Can you tell our readers what SmartMoisture is and what its contribution/advantages to moisture management are?
SmartMoisture is the latest innovation in responsible moisture management. Uniquely, it contains glycerol esters of propionic acid and surfactant while current products contain ammonia propionate and surfactants.
SmartMoisture’s unique combination of glycerol esters of propionic acid and surfactants act fast to encourage moisture absorption. The surfactants break down the surface tension of water, allowing the water to be distributed throughout a batch of feed and creating more contact between water and feed particles. The glycerol esters then act in synergy as a humectant. The glycerol esters can hold up to 1,000 times their own weight in water as they drag moisture into feed particles. Glycerol is used in the cosmetic industry to ensure ointments can absorb into human skin, similar to how SmartMoisture behaves.
SmartMoisture prepares the feed for further absorption of moisture in the conditioning process, allowing for better particle adhesion. We have found improvements in steam retention efficiencies, improvements in throughput and increased energy savings where SmartMoisture is used.
The retention of the moisture is assured, and we consistently see the full retention throughout the feed milling process. SmartMoisture also reduces the effect of equilibrium moisture content after production as well as guarding the feed against moisture migration.
How is SmartMoisture used? What does this product contain and how does it increase the penetration rate of moisture into the feed?
A solution of SmartMoisture and water is created before dosing. The recommended solution is 380g SmartMoisture to 9,600ml of water for 1% moisture addition. Dosing the solution is very important as the dosing needs to be accurate at the right time, at the right pressure, through nozzles that create a mist spray angled into the feed.
For this we have developed a network of liquid dosing companies which can support us in building these systems and maintaining them in every region we do business. The photos below show an exemplary dosing system.
What is the optimum moisture level in production, why is it important and how does SmartMoisture ensure this level is maintained?
Our recommendation is to ensure feed has the moisture levels intended at the point of manufacture. Moisture should be treated in a similar fashion to other raw materials which are added as an ingredient just like maize, soya and wheat. It is part of the nutritional specification of feed. If moisture is not included as intended, feed millers will fill that space with more expensive raw materials.
Moisture management is also highly important in terms of feed safety. What is SmartMoisture’s contribution to the solution of problems that may occur in feed safety due to moisture?
Adding water to feed without SmartMoisture increases risk. Grains don’t simply absorb water, they become hydrophobic due to a tightening of cell walls as internal moisture is depleted, causing an imbalance of water either side of the cell wall which hinders osmosis. This leads to surface tension issues and water cannot initially penetrate the cell wall.This creates water particles sitting freely in the feed which in turn increases water activity. The higher the water activity the higher the risk of microbial growth (selected fungi will start growing at water activity of 0.67aW).
SmartMoisture through the glycerol esters and surfactants has proven to significantly reduce the water activity in mash, pelleted and extruded feed therefore reducing the risk. The propionic that is esterified to glycerol and formic acid protects the feed against microbial growth. The glycerol esters of propionic acid are not an ionic bond like ammonia propionate and are not pH sensitive to dissociation. As a result, we get better retention over time of propionic acid and that leads to longer protection of feed.
Has SmartMoisture ever been tested practically in any feed mill? Could you share with us the results obtained in terms of financial and operational performance?
Yes, in the last two years we have run 17 commercial trials in various feed mills and extruder plants. We see consistent results and can comfortably claim:
• 98% moisture retention
• Improved steam absorption
• Increase of throughput, minimum result so far was 10%
• Amperage reduction of around 12% (throughput and amp reduction goes hand in hand)
• Pellet durability improvement varying from 0.5%-13% depending on pellet quality before treatment
• Water activity control
• Total Enterobacteria and mould control
• Retention of moisture after production, this is associated with reduction of moisture migration and caking in feed.