feed facts

How Feed is Made


Nutritionists – the dieticians of the animal food world – formulate animal food to provide animals with the necessary, balanced nutrients for proper growth, development and maintenance. Animal food is designed to compensate for nutrients and supplements that may be absent from an animal’s natural diets.

Four basic steps to producing animal food

  1. Receive raw ingredients
    Feed mills receive raw ingredients from suppliers. Upon arrival, the ingredients are weighed, tested and analyzed for various nutrients and to ensure their quality and safety.
  2. Create a formula
    Nutritionists work side-by-side with scientists to formulate nutritionally sound and balanced diets for livestock, poultry, aquaculture and pets. This is a complex process, as every species has different nutritional requirements.
  3. Mix ingredients
    Once the formula is determined, the mill mixes the ingredients to create a finished product.
  4. Package and label
    Manufacturers determine the best way to ship the product. If it is prepared for retail, it will be “bagged and tagged,” or placed into a bag with a label that includes the product’s purpose, ingredients and instructions. If the product is prepared for commercial use, it will be shipped in bulk.


There are more than 900 safe agricultural ingredients and coproducts approved for use in animal food in the United States, including:

  • Corn
  • Soybean meal
  • Dried and wet distillers’ grains
  • Bakery meal
  • Corn gluten feed
  • Cottonseed meal
  • Wheat midds
  • Grain sorghum
  • Soybean hulls
  • Oats
  • Amino acids
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Probiotics
  • Enzymes
  • Animal protein products
  • Fats and oils
  • Marine products
  • Milk products
  • Wheat products
  • Flavors
  • And more!

diet composition

Lab testing and assurance

Quality assurance is a set of procedures that manufacturers follow to ensure all products are produced to achieve a desired level of quality. It begins with the examination of incoming ingredients. A manufacturing facility’s quality assurance, nutrition, procurement and production teams develop testing methods and frequencies to evaluate the quality of ingredients used throughout the process, and in finished feed products, which may include:

  • Moisture content,
  • Protein,
  • Fat quality and quantity,
  • Crude fiber,
  • Mycotoxins,
  • Pathogens,
  • Other nutrients, and
  • Other indicators of quality.