Management strategies that can secure feed quality

Feed quality is influenced by many factors, from handling and storage of raw materials to the processing of feed. Controlling invisible quality parameters such as microbial degradation from bacteria and mould growth as well as chemical degradation due to autoxidation is often challenging.


F Microbial Degradation

Invisible Threat • Mould • Bacteria

Preservated Feed

• Mycotoxin risk • Salmonella risk • Nutrient loss • Reduce feed intake


• Nutrient loss • Reduce feed intake

eed is one of the most important inputs related to livestock production and profits. Succeeding or fail- ing to improve yield depends therefore, to a large extent, on the quality of feed. Feed quality is gener-

ally perceived as the responsibility of both raw material sup- pliers and feed manufacturers, and it is affected by factors such as handling, storage, and use. Consequently, the ob- jective of a feed quality assurance programme is to manu- facture feed while guaranteeing that it is fit for purpose and of consistent quality. Providing high-quality feeds starts with ingredient sourcing and purchasing, which minimises safety risks in terms of microbial, chemical, and physical pa- rameters. However, controlling some of the invisible micro- bial and chemical quality parameters is often difficult and challenging. To help with this, quality control should pre- scribe specific assurance-preservation programmes both for

Figure 1 - Feed quality degradation pathways. Feed Ingredients

Manufactured Feed

feed ingredients and for finished feed, depending on the relative risks. This article discusses autoxidation as a chemi- cal quality parameter and mould growth as a microbial quality parameter (see Figure 1).

Feed ingredients and risk assessment The risk factors associated with fresh and stored feed ingredi- ents, as well as finished feeds, are well understood but often overlooked. Assessing feed ingredients and feeds based on their high, intermediate, or low risk helps us to make deci- sions about which actions to take to mitigate variations in quality. Table 1 shows an example of a risk assessment chart. It indicates key factors that contribute to the oxidative dam- age of fats/oils and fat-soluble nutrients (i.e., oxidative quali- ty), and those that favor the development of mould and other pathogens (i.e., microbial quality).

Chemical Degradation

Invisible Threat • Autoxidation

Assurance programmes and preservation solutions High-quality finished feed retains its nutritional value and visual appearance from the day it is produced until the day it is consumed. Maintaining the nutritional value and quali- ty of feed ingredients takes more than just proper handling and storage. Various practices should be implemented to preserve and guarantee feed ingredient and final feed qual- ity. For example, controls include: Storage quality and hygiene Ideally, storage structures should be clean, dry, and well ventilated. Equipment should also be regularly cleaned and old feed residues must be removed. It is important to peri- odically schedule inspections and repairs of storage struc- tures (i.e., roofs and walls) and implement pest control to ensure that storage structures remain in good condition. The use of mould inhibitors and antioxidants in accordance with relative risks The quality of ingredients and final feeds is determined not only by their nutrient composition, but also by their hygiene or microbiological loads, which involves looking at the number of mould spores (this is a particularly important factor). Under field conditions, before harvest, little can be done about mould contamination and its subsequent toxin production. However, we can adopt several post-harvest strategies to control the growth and development of moulds and reduce their negative impact on feed quality. Firstly, mould inhibitors can be applied to control mould

▶ ALL ABOUT FEED | Volume 29, No. 5/6, 2021

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