June 28, 2017

28/06/2017: Reducing feeding costs through NIR analysis

by Sophie Brown, AB Vista, UK

Nutrition continues to be one of the most critical factors of animal production, with feed costs accounting for up to 80 percent of the total variable costs

Least-cost feed formulation software allows nutritionists to construct a diet that meets the requirements of the animal and considers feed ingredient cost and nutrient content. However, there is considerable variation of nutritional quality within an ingredient due to several factors including cultivar, soil quality and growing, harvesting and post-harvesting conditions. The extent of this variability and its potential economic impact is a challenge for feed manufacturers and producers.

Traditional analysis methods are costly and time consuming
The cost of wet chemistry analysis is prohibitive to large numbers of samples and as such it may not address the question of ingredient variability. Variability of nutritional quality of raw materials presents a risk of under or over estimating nutrients, leading to economic losses and/or poor animal performance.

In addition to the cost of wet chemistry there is an average 1-2 week turnaround time to receive results after ingredient submission. Published references (NRC or Feedstuffs ingredient analysis table) are another resource nutritionist used to assign ingredient nutrient values.

However, published references only present an average nutrient value and do not provide knowledge of ingredient variability, compositional differences between batches or changes over time.

New developments in NIR technology

With increased focus on ingredient knowledge and quality control, near infrared reflectance (NIR) manufacturers and software developers have introduced new products into the market that are able to help the modern day nutritionist better understand feed ingredient quality and variability.

NIR uses near infrared reflectance to obtain a chemical profile of an ingredient sample and thus predict parameters such as moisture, starch, protein and fat. However it is also possible to build NIR calibrations beyond the usual proximate analysis to include analysis of reactive lysine, in vivo energy values and phytic-P.

Such analysis has the potential to bring cost savings through formulation, supplier selection and ultimately animal performance. Hardware advances such as portable NIR devices can be used on-farm or in the feed mill, allowing greater flexibility, and software developments have allowed web-enabled analyses and programs that transfer NIR data directly into feed formulation software.

Measuring phytate levels with NIR to maximise phytase use
Phytate varies within raw materials and if this is not accounted for in formulation it has the potential to lead to variable phytate content of complete feeds.

In Figure 1, it is clear that some raw materials are more variable than others, particularly those that we know to be inherently variable such as bakery meal. NIR technology can analyse phytate content, giving the nutritionist values for formulation and confidence that there is enough substrate for a phytase enzyme to act on in the complete feed. NIR can be used as a tool to check the potential substrate for phytase in complete feeds.

The presence of higher levels of phytate in broiler feeds means there is greater opportunity to make the phosphate in this phytate available by use of higher doses of efficient phytases.

Read the full article, HERE.

The Global Miller
This blog is maintained by The Global Miller staff and is supported by the magazine Milling and Grain
which is published by Perendale Publishers Limited.

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