By Dr. Mahesh GR, Nutritionist, Trouw Nutrition South Asia
The demand for animal products tends to rise with people’s economic condition. The ever-increasing genetic potential of modern livestock demands precision and balanced nutrition. Nutrition accounts for 60%–70% of the total cost of production and is highly essential for the performance and well-being of the animals. Farmers are constantly seeking innovative ways to optimise the cost of production. Premix plays an important role in ensuring the delivery of essential nutrients to livestock in a precise and balanced manner. Premix technology involves the precise blending of essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other additives into a single, highly concentrated, and homogeneous mixture. It ensures uniform distribution of vital nutrients, thereby facilitating accurate dosage and efficient delivery within animal feed and providing a cost-effective and convenient solution to enhance animal nutrition. Trouw Nutrition, with more than 90 years of expertise in premix manufacturing technology, we have consistently delivered high-quality premixes that meet the diverse needs of the livestock, poultry, and aquaculture industries across the world, along with a steadfast commitment to innovation, research, and development.
A premix refers to a specialised mixture of either an individual or group of essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and other additives that is added to animal feed to meet the specific nutritional requirements of different livestock species. Premixes are designed mainly to homogenise micronutrients and feed additives in the final feed.
The quality premix manufacturing process typically involves the following steps:
- Raw material sourcing and procurement
- Physical and chemical characteristics
- Packaging and transport
- Safety and quality management
Raw materials sourcing and procurement
The process of premix manufacturing starts with sourcing good-quality raw material suppliers. Premixes should be free from microbial and bacterial contamination and comply with legal limits for specific undesirable substances like heavy metals and dioxins. The presence of these contaminants in premix is essentially due to their presence in raw materials. Substandard raw materials result in the production of poor-quality premixes, which compromise the safety and performance of livestock. Raw material suppliers are supposed to have good quality and feed safety systems in place, where risk assessment and management of supplied ingredients ensure that these products comply with applicable legislation and agreed specification. Manufacturers and suppliers must adhere to the HACCP method and have quality control programs like FAMI-QS, GMP+, FEMAS, QS, or other comparable programmes in place.
In addition to the above systems, the selection of raw materials should be based on the below-mentioned raw material properties.
- Particle size: Particle size is the most important criteria that determines the homogeneity of premix. Theoretically, ingredients with low particle sizes have a better chance of mixing homogeneously, but they also have a greater tendency to form dusty clumps or cakes. While coarse ingredients have less homogeneity, less dusty, and have better flowability.
- Moisture: Raw materials with low moisture are preferable as high moisture ingredients promotes lumping, low flowability, promotes mould and microbial contamination.
- Bulk density and reactivity: Bulk density in relation to particle size is a vital parameter to achieve homogeneity of premix. Ingredients should be less reactive and sensitive to Ph, light, temperature, and other external and internal climatic conditions.
- Flowability and dustiness: Ingredients should have good flowability and less dusty as dusty products may pose occupational hazards and can cause dust explosions.
Formulation is a critical step in the process of premix production. A person who is doing premix formulations should have knowledge about animal nutritional requirements in addition to knowledge of micro ingredients and powder technology.
Formulators should consider the belowmentioned parameters to make the right blend.
- Nutritional aspects
- Ingredients characteristics
- Carriers’ choice
- Safety, quality, and handling properties
- Nutritional aspects: Formulators should have knowledge of the nutritional requirements of animals, which may be simple (vitamin and mineral premixes) or complex (base mixes) with a combination of minerals, vitamins, and other selected additives. After finalising the nutritional needs, premixes must be formulated with known-quality ingredients to meet those specific nutritional requirements, even considering the bioavailability of the ingredients.
- Ingredient characteristics: Each ingredient in a premix has different physical and chemical properties (Table-1). Physical properties play a role in handling and mixing properties, while chemical properties impact the stability and reactivity of premixes.
|Physical characteristics||Chemical characteristics|
- Carrier choice: Carriers are inert materials with no nutritional value to the animals but play a crucial role in the process. There are two types of carriers: organic (rice hulls, maize cobs, wheat middling, and lactose) and inorganic (calcium carbonate, DCP). The ideal carrier should be chemically inert and should have particle size, shape, and densities compatible with the other active ingredients to facilitate proper mixing and homogeneity in premix. Selection of carriers is of the utmost importance for a better-quality premix; mostly combinations of carriers result in better premixes than individual carriers.
- Safety, quality, and handling properties: The formulation of premixes should be done keeping physical and health hazards in mind. Too many fine and powdery premixes have the capacity to form dust explosions, so the formulator must use high-density carriers like calcium carbonate to prevent it. Some premix ingredients, like cobalt and selenium, can pose safety hazards to people who are handling premixes and to animals if not dosed in the right quantity.
Manufacturing process of premix
Once the formulation is finalised, the next step is to select the appropriate ingredients to meet the desired nutrient composition. These ingredients can include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, trace minerals, enzymes, probiotics, and other additives. High-quality ingredients are chosen to ensure the nutritional integrity of the premix. The selected ingredients are carefully weighed and measured according to the formulation’s specifications. Precision is crucial to achieving accurate nutrient levels. The ingredients are then thoroughly mixed to ensure uniform distribution.
Physical and chemical characteristics of premix
The physical and chemical characteristics of premixes can vary depending on their composition and purpose. Premixes can vary in colour, ranging from light beige to dark brown, depending on the ingredients used. The particle size of premixes is generally fine to coarse to ensure uniform mixing with other feed ingredients. Good-quality premixes should exhibit excellent homogeneity, meaning that the nutrients are uniformly distributed throughout the mixture. The efficacy of mixing can be determined by calculating the standard deviation and coefficient of variation (CV). The ideal CV should range from 5–10%; anything less than 5% is great to achieve. Premixes should have good flowability to facilitate accurate and consistent dosing during feed production. The specific chemical composition may vary depending on the targeted animal species and production goals. Combination of both vitamins and minerals will impact the stability of vitamins as trace minerals like Fe, Cu, and Zn are the most reactive. So as far as possible, it is advised not to combine both. But if we want to, it would be better to go with chelated ororganic minerals, and new generation hydroxy minerals to maintain the stability of premix for a longer duration.
Packaging and transport
Most of the premixes are packed and transported in small bags, like 20 or 25 kg, based on bulk density. Filling of bags with premixes is typically done on automatic (Fig -2)or semi-automatic lines where suction cups pick up empty premix bags and pre-weighed premix is filled into the bags, followed by deaeration, and closing of bags by sewing or welding. Pre-printed labels are attached to the bags as per the formulation and customization. All package types should protect workers, the general working environment, and the product inside the package throughout storage, transport, and handling of the goods (fig-3). Packaging materials should be hard and sturdy enough to withstand a certain amount of rough handling.
Fig 2-Auto packaging machine (Source: TN facility)
Fig 3- Packaging and shrink wrapping for transport (Source: TN facility)
Safety and quality management
Premixes intended to feed livestock animals should be safe to use without any potential risk to animals. The safety of premixes is controlled from the reception of ingredients to the delivery of the final product. The tracking and tracing of every raw ingredient used in the premix should be evaluated and stored for future reference. Premixes should be analysed for all safety parameters and material safety data, along with hazardous symbols to be pasted along with the bags.
The premix manufacturer should compulsorily specify composition, physical and chemical specifications, packaging, storage conditions, shelf life, and instructions for use. All finished products should be inspected prior to dispatch according to the written SOPs to ensure they meet specifications. An adequate sample from all the premixes should be taken and stored in a sample room for a specified time until expiration for future use.
Trouw Nutrition being the leader in the process of premixes follows European standards for premix manufacturing (Fig-5). Trouw Nutrition follows a very stringent process of raw material selection. Equipped withNutrace®, Nutrec-wide feed-to-food safety programme for ensuring consistent quality, we focus on all aspects of quality like food safety, risk management, tracking, tracing, ingredient, and supplier assessment.
Fig 5 -Trouw premix plant in Hyderabad
For over 90 years, Trouw Nutrition has been a driving force in the premix manufacturing industry. With their state-of-the-art facilities, extensive expertise, and unwavering commitment to quality, the company has earned a stellar reputation for delivering premium quality premixes that promote animal health and productivity. By embracing innovation and sustainability, Trouw Nutrition continues to provide the way for advancements in animal nutrition, ensuring a brighter future for both animals and farmers.
For further information, kindly write to us at email@example.com or visit our website: www.trouwnutrition.in