Creating high-quality pellets that support animal performance is a complex multi-faceted process. Variables can change throughout this process, leading to some common pellet integrity challenges. But did you know these deviations are often linked to specific root causes?
Pelleted feed is often observed as curved particles with many cracks, which can be due to a dull blade, improper compression force or the addition of molasses or fat. Improving the quality of pellet feed often involves increasing the compression force of the ring die, adjustment of the cutting knife and ring die, further reduction of raw material particle sizes and more uniform distribution of molasses and fat when applicable. However, further improvement of pellet quality can be achieved via the addition of milling efficiency aids designed to improve gelatinization and bonding within the pellet.
What Are the Most Common Types of Cracks Observed in Pelleted Feed?
Whisker pellets are typically caused by excess steam accumulating into the feed fiber or powder. Resolution requires proper steam controls, in high starch and fiber feeds using a low steam pressure may lead to improvement.
Pellet cracking can be vertical, horizontal and radial with each crack type corresponding to different route causes.
Pellets or cubes with vertical cracks can be attributed to fluffy and elastic raw material within feed formulations that swell after passing through the conditioner. Improvement measures include changing the ingredients in the formulation, using saturated dry steam, reducing production speed, increasing the effective length of the die or adding a binder.
During the production of fluffy pellet feed, the expansion of fiber can lead to horizontal cracks crossing the entire pellet. This is typically improved by increasing the ring die's compression force and controlling the fiber's crushing fineness. Furthermore, the output can be reduced to increase the density and tempering time extended. The content of water and urea should also be controlled to prevent undesirable pellet appearance.
Radial cracks occur when large raw pellet materials make it difficult to fully absorb moisture and heat in the steam. Improvement measures include controlling the thickness and uniformity of raw materials to ensure all raw materials can be softened uniformly.
What About Pellet Appearance Issues Such as Uneven Surfaces?
The uneven surfaces of pellet feed are caused by the inclusion of complete or partially ground large raw materials in the mash, which are not completely softened during conditioning. Properly controlling the particle size in the mash prior to conditioning can improve this issue. For high-fiber rations, it is important to not add too much steam during pelleting.
As can be observed, moisture and conditioning are linked to many of the route causes commonly seen in pelleted feed making it important for producers to have effective tools that support optimal moisture penetration and retention in feed.
Commercial mills and integrators often face challenges in managing moisture levels, leading to pellet quality challenges, reduced efficiency and productivity, feed wastage and nutrient segregation.
High-quality feed must be produced at the lowest possible cost to achieve efficient feed milling. This can be accomplished by optimizing the use of resources, improving production processes, and reducing waste. Achieving a balance between production efficiency and nutritional value requires a mechanism that improves moisture penetration and facilitates more effective meal conditioning. Pellet quality is improved by optimizing moisture levels between mash and conditioner, and moisture penetration within feed formulation.
Proper moisture penetration and retention within feed particles during conditioning and pressing acts as a heat conduit, allowing for uniform heat transfer throughout the meal. This uniform distribution of heat improves starch gelatinization and increases pellet quality and durability. Milling efficiency aids such as Maxi-Mil facilitate moisture absorption and retention within pellet feeds and help producers mitigate many of these commonly observed pellet appearance deviations.
Contact a clean feed expert today to learn more about how Maxi-Mil supports pellet quality.