Development and future of feed mill design

12 April 20223 min reading

I witnessed this revolution during my carrier as a milling engineer, very challenging and still not reaching the limits of what is possible. But for sure contributing to a more sustainable production of animal proteins for those who still like to eat meat and fish.

Bart Peters
Milling Engineer
Feedtech Bulletin

Key issues in 2022, but for sure also in the years to come, are Climate Change and Sustainability. Our planet cannot keep up with the increasing consumption by its inhabitants. Already in approximately 9 months we consume more than our mother Earth can produce in one year. Also we used in almost one generation all the fossil energy that was stored in coal, oil and gas during billions of years. The impact on our planet and its inhabitants is high. Some scientists say that it is still possible to turn the tide but we should not wait a day longer.

Besides the need to renew our energy sources to solar-and wind energy, we also have to improve the production of our food to reduce our footprint.

The production of meat asks a lot of recourses. Not only energy and water, but also a lot of natural protein sources. The production worldwide of our main protein source Soya should be enough to feed the planet, but because of the high conversion rate for the production of meat, this is not sustainable. We have to reduce the consumption of meat and/ or look for food that has a better conversion rate.

So besides reducing the meat consumption, we must eat more vegan products and/or consume f.e. more fish which has a much better conversion rate.

Feed mill technology will have to adapt to be able to produce more fish feed using more vegetable recourses. To achieve this, extruder technology and fine grinding were introduced. Also to the use of additives like acids and enzymes and higher energy levels contributed to very high quality fish feeds. 

The use of extruder technology in the fish feed production started in the late seventies.

The extruded fish feed was consumed by Salmon and Rainbow Trout also in wintertime. 

This reduced the loss of weight of these farmed fish as they normally wouldn't eat during wintertime. Fish farmers found out that not only the fish consumed this winterfeed in wintertime, but also that the consumption of this extruded feed in summertime was much higher which resulted in faster growth i.e. more profit. This was the beginning of a revolution in the production of fish feed for mainly predator fish. By the high degree of cooking in the extruder process, the recipes for f.e. Salmon feed no longer contain high percentages of fish meal (once up to 60%) but more and more vegetable protein sources like soya and other cereals.

To increase the conversion rate also fine grinding was more and more introduced. Special hammermills were designed to grind the pre-mixed raw materials on screens with only 0,8 to 1 mm holes.

To increase the energy level of the fish feed, vacuum core coating was developed.

The vacuum core coating system made it possible to add fat/oil up to a level of appr. 35% of the finished product. Also the addition of enzymes a.o. is possible in these coater systems including final coatings to prevent pollution of the water.

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