Feed processing for a profitable and sustainable feed business

Dr. Menno Thomas, Zetadec – Wageningen University & Research

The expected increase in world population and in animal-derived food protein consumption will further impose pressure on our food system, which will stimulate innovations that make the system more effective and productive. To accommodate the demand in animal-derived food proteins, the feed business will also be forced to become more effective and productive using feedstuffs that fit with a more circular food system. For feed manufacturing operations either a mitigating strategy can be employed, in which further refinements of existing feed manufacturing technologies is aspired, or adaptations to the system of feed production for animals is sought. In the latter case alternative processing technologies are used to increase the value of existing and new raw materials, including co-products, to prepare animal feed. To adapt the current feed manufacturing technologies (mixing, milling, conditioning, pelleting and cooling) advancements in knowledge of currently used unit operations is desired. Here, existing concepts applied in food processing technology, like state phase diagrams, may further enhance the efficiency of existing feed manufacturing operations. For adaptive technology, a range of alternative technologies can be made available which may act upstream of existing feed manufacturing schemes; e.g. microbial or fungal treatment of e.g. fibrous by-products before incorporating in pelleted feed. Or, alternative technologies may develop in parallel to pelleting operations in which case an animal on-farm is given a diet consisting of pelleted feed supplemented with a blend of treated raw materials of various origin. In this contribution, innovations in feed technology are discussed and a brief overview is given on possible adaptive technologies which may be integrated in the animal feeding system.

Dr. Menno Thomas obtained a B.Sc. in Agricultural Engineering from the ‘HAS-Leeuwarden’ in 1990. From 1990-1993 he studied animal nutrition at Wageningen University and Research (M.Sc.). He obtained his Ph.D. on animal feed manufacturing in 1998 on the relation between functional characteristics of raw material components and its effect on physical pellet quality. After a post-doctoral in agricultural systems research (1999), he moved into the industry where he worked in various jobs as a researcher, consultant, trainer, and managing director before starting his own research company ‘Zetadec’ in 2007 in which he and his colleagues solve industry related problems in raw material processing and feed manufacturing. Since 2018, Menno has also worked part-time as an Assistant Professor in compound feed technology within the Department of Animal Nutrition at Wageningen University & Research.

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