• Posted by Anitox

Your Guide to Improving Feed Quality

Managing costs is at the top of everybody’s list. For poultry producers – one of the biggest cost centers is the feed supplied to poultry. Feed makes up 60-70% of the poultry production costs making poor ingredient and finished feed quality a significant loss. Variable microbial loads in feed and feed ingredients impact feed quality, poultry health and performance.

Dr. Enrique Montiel, Global Director of Nutrition and Live Production, and Technical Director, Jose Ramirez, shared how producers can make more better-quality feed at PEAK 2023.

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Understand Microbial Risk Associated with Your Feed Ingredients

High-quality feed comes from high-quality ingredients. However, despite best efforts to source the best materials, ingredient quality is not constant.

High microbial loads and increased pathogen prevalence in feed has been linked to reduced poultry performance as well as increased morbidity and mortality. Improved poultry performance has been shown in studies comparing birds consuming feeds with decreased microbial loads to those consuming a control diet.

Based on the research available, we know that microbial loads within feed and feed ingredients vary based on geography, seasonality, type/formulation, transport and storage conditions. An analysis of over 8000 feed and feed ingredient samples submitted to the Anitox laboratory from feed ingredient processors and feed producers throughout the world shows that microbial contamination of feed is prevalent.

Let’s take a closer look at key components of poultry feed formulations:

Corn and Corn Byproducts

Within the US corn accounts for 50-75% of most feed formulations. Corn has been identified as a source of mycotoxin-producing molds, Salmonella, E. coli, Enterococcus and Clostridia. Oftentimes, higher levels of contamination are seen during summer months, and broken kernels can increase nutrient segregation as well as microbial contamination.

         Soybean Meal

Salmonella contamination of soybean meal is supported by a literature body as well as Anitox analysis of globally obtained samples. Soybean meal typically makes us 25-40% of poultry diets and is considered a high Salmonella-risk ingredient according to Rocha et al. 2022.

         Wheat Middlings

More typically observed as a high-risk source of mycotoxins and Enterobacteriaceae wheat middlings are commonly used in broiler breeder and layer diets.

Animal Byproduct Meals

Animal Byproduct meals have been associated with high microbial loads, Clostridium perfringens, Salmonella and Enterococcus. Antibiotic resistance was connected to many of the bacteria isolated in meat and bone meals in a study by Hofacre et al. 2001.

For more information on microbial risk in your formulations, check out our Feed Ingredient Risk Assessment.


Feed Mill Hygiene Plays a Critical Role in Mitigating Feed Contamination

Raw materials are only part of the risk in pathogen transmission to feed mills. Incoming and outgoing trucks, rodents, people, water, migrant birds can all contribute to pathogen introduction within feed mills; making comprehensive feed mill biosecurity critical to producing high-quality finished feed with reduced microbial loads.

          How Does Feed Mill Contamination Occur?

Pathogen ingression in to feed mills can lead to microbial growth niches and legacy bacteria. Within the body of literature Salmonella is one of the most evaluated resident bacteria within feed mills. IN fact, Salmonella has been shown to grow within the manufacturing system and contribute to feed contamination (Israelson et al., 1997). A study in the UK tested dust and swab samples collected from 22 different feed mills (Gosling et al., 2022). Feed mills where there was a Salmonella incidence of greater than 5% where further examined. Within these mills, researchers determined the prevalence of Salmonella within different areas of the mill and found that certain serovars were more persistent. These persistent serovars corresponded with reported serovars from feed and broiler flock surveillance data. Most production and processing facilities try to separate dirty zones from clean zones using a heat or kill step within the manufacturing process, but studies have found that any bacteria that is not completely eliminated can contaminate and proliferate in the cooler. As materials continue to pass through the cooler this bacterial contamination can continue to spread throughout the milling system.

Implement Effective Interventions that Protect Feed Quality       

Feed sanitation is one of the industry’s most impactful tools. Studies have repeatedly shown that utilizing a feed sanitizer in raw ingredients and finished feed reduces overall microbial loads and pathogen prevalence. Furthermore, feed sanitizers are able to provide continued protection against recontamination for at least 14 days post-application.

Feed sanitizers have been repeatedly shown to reduce microbial loads in feed which has been further linked to improvements in poultry performance metrics. Avila et al. found that broiler breeder hens consuming sanitized feed with reduced microbial loads produced eggs that lower shell microbial loads.

Understanding the microbial risk associated with ingredients in feed formulations, the role of legacy bacteria in feed mills and the impact of effective feed hygiene interventions enables producers to meet feed quality, biosecurity and performance objectives.

To learn more about how you can implement strategies promoting feed quality within your operation, contact your clean feed expert today.

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