Feed Bites

5 Things I Learned at FII

Written by: Lacie Dotterweich   |   April 28, 2022

Feed Industry Institute, Education

It’s uncommon for a class to be offered on literally almost everything you need to know about an industry. That’s what makes the animal food industry and the Feed Industry Institute (FII) so unique. FII is a great educational forum that provides deep-dive lectures on the basics on animal nutrition and the process for manufacturing feed/pet food and getting it to market.

Creating a list of most interesting things I learned during FII was very hard because there is just so much to choose from! Alas, out of the nearly 30 sessions on every facet of the industry, here are five interesting things I learned while participating in the last FII.

  1. Whey and whey protein has come a long way

Whey and whey protein has a long history dating back to the Greeks and Romans. Over the last several centuries, whey was discarded as a waste byproduct from cheese production. As cheese production increased, whey began to be viewed as a pollutant, so there was increasing pressure to find uses for it. Research found that as far as biological value of proteins go, whey ranks highest. Whey protein concentrate can be used in calf milk replacers and whey permeate is also a good source of energy for dairy and swine diets.

  1. Feed additives do a lot!

Feed additives are tools to address a plethora of key issues, including consumer concerns (e.g., antibiotic use), the environment (e.g., potential to lower carbon footprint), resource limitations (i.e., increase efficiency), and health and safety (healthy animals = safe food!). New feed additives on the horizon are looking at achieving all of these things and the American Feed Industry Association is working to ensure the United States’ regulatory system keeps pace with modern science on animal nutrition.

  1. Calves aren’t born ruminants

Did you know that calves are essentially a “non-ruminant” at birth? When they are born, their rumen, reticulum and omasum are undeveloped and nonfunctional. The rumen begins developing with the intake of solid feed, especially roughage, around 4-6 weeks of age.

  1. There is a big variance in animal species’ taste buds

Humans don’t have the most taste buds. Swine and dairy calves have more taste buds than humans, 15,000 and 25,000 respectively, compared to a human’s 9,000. Dogs, with their 1,706 taste buds, have a preference for diets with sweetness. Even though cats have a fair amount of taste buds (473), they can’t taste sweetness; they have sweetness receptors, but they aren’t functional. Poor chickens – they only have 24 taste buds.

  1. The purpose of a gizzard

Before going through FII, the only thing I really knew about gizzards was that they came from chickens and my grandma loves to eat them fried. I learned that the gizzard functionally serves as the chicken’s teeth, or grinder, physically reducing feed particle sizes by grinding seeds and grain.

Want to learn (a lot) more? Early-bird registration for FII ends this week – save some money and see more information on the event website.

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