How Feed is Made
A career as an animal nutritionist requires a bachelor’s degree in animal science or an animal science-related degree and many times a master’s degree and/or doctoral degree in animal nutrition.
Receiving raw ingredients from suppliers is the most important process. Upon arrival, ingredients are weighed, tested and analyzed for various nutrients to ensure their quality and safety. This process allows nutritionists to accurately formulate feed for a specific species.
Feed manufactures follow governed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA is responsible for the regulation of feed and implementation of policies through the state government and the . Numerous feed certification programs—such as the American Feed Industry Association’s —are also available for additional compliance and regulation.
1. FSC 32: Manufacturer of Pet Food, GFSI-benchmarked program designed specifically for pet food manufacturing and pet food ingredient manufacturing
2. FSC 34: Manufacturer of Animal Feed, a GFSI-benchmarked program for feed and feed ingredient manufacturers
3. FSC 36: Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification Program, a foundational program that provides compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act
4. International Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification Program, a FAMI-QS program that helps facilitate U.S. trade with European feed and ingredient customers by providing a tool to illustrate compliance with the European Union's feed hygiene regulation, Regulation (EC) 183/2005
After a formula, or recipe, is developed, the ingredients are mixed together to make a complete feed. The mixing process is a crucial step in determining the outcome of the product. Ingredients can either be dry, liquid or moist. Dry bulk ingredients (i.e. cereal grains) are added to the mixer first then followed by other dry materials such as minerals and vitamins, or “micro-ingredients” to prevent a loss of minor ingredients. Liquids can then be either sprayed or added to the mixed ingredients. Moist ingredients are added last to create an adhesive consistency.
Once the feed has been formulated and mixed, it will go through the final steps in the manufacturing process before animal consumption. Before being packaged, the feed goes through a pelleting process and just like human food, animal feed can have a variety of textures such as pelleted, flaked, crumbled, meal or extruded. The texture of the feed is determined by what it is intended for. For example, dry pet food goes through an extrusion process where the dough is cooked, shaped and dyed.
The animal feed production process is highly detailed, organized and regulated. It is also an important step to feeding the earth’s growing population. In 2013, 5 billion bushels of grain and 40 million tons of agriculture commodities made feed for 9.2 billion livestock animals, 70 million dogs and 74 million cats. When complete, animal feed is a balanced diet, meant to provide all necessary nutrients to the animals raised for consumption and our family pets that we care for and love.