The production of feed grains for animals and poultry has become a major industry in its own right. America’s animal feed companies are involved with one of the most important efforts in the modern world. The processes by which feed is manufactured are complex and designed to produce processed grains and nutritional substance in the millions of tons annually.

Finding Balance

Animals kept in feedlots are fed and penned in such a way as to accelerate growth while also keeping them healthy with essential nutrients and antibiotics. This is in order to guarantee maximum quality for the meat and milk harvested from them. However, diets high in grains can cause potentially lethal digestive tract problems in grazing livestock, and the overuse of drugs, hormones and antibiotics can result in the excess ending up in human diets.

The challenge of the feed industry is to formulate stock that provides essential nutrients and encourages quick growth. This aim must be accomplished while also minimizing harm to animals from an unbalanced diet and to humans from chemical and biological residues. Achieving these objectives is the task taken on by scientists and animal nutritionists.

The Scientific Challenge

Animal nutritionists are specialists whose work involves formulating feedstock providing a balanced and nutritious product for animal consumption. They are required to take an extensive education in the sciences, with the particular focus on animal behavior, biology, food processing, chemistry, and physics. An animal nutritionist must earn a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s or even a doctoral degree in animal nutrition. They work alongside chemists, veterinarians and geneticists to produce high-quality feed product designed for the particular needs of each farm animal breed.

At every stage, laboratory testing is involved in the production process. The feedstock is evaluated for nutritional content, moisture content, protein level, the quality and quantity of fats, fibers, mycotoxins, pathogens and chemical contaminants. Screening outfeed found to be compromised by various contaminants or abnormal levels of vitamins, minerals, and other micro-ingredients are central to production quality control.

Certified Top Grade

Once a formula is fully developed, the ingredients are then combined to produce feed. This mixing process then determines the grade and quality of feed product. Each ingredient is pre-tested and certified according to safety assurance programs to ensure top quality of all ingredients going into the makeup of feedstock going to the animals that eventually feed the American consumer.