Gentle handling makes better feed
By Heather Wiedenhoft
By Heather Wiedenhoft
There are two key factors to making exceptional aquaculture feed: The right ingredients, and the
optimal combination and handling of said ingredients. This may sound uncomplicated, like cooking, and some manufacturers prefer simplicity. But if we aim for a better, more productive future in the aquaculture industry, we have to raise feed standards. It all starts with analyzing potential components of our feed, and finding out how to preserve their nutrients as effectively as possible.
Hot or not?
Most feed manufacturers use cooking extruders to manufacture their products. A cooking extruder is an advanced mixer with a spout, and the ingredients undergo heat treatment before being processed and compressed. The heat affects the feed components with some suggesting that it lowers vitamin levels, denatures proteins, oxidizes fatty acids and pigments.
Others claim that heat treatment is necessary: After all, it pasteurizes and sterilizes the feed in addition to allowing wheat to function as a binder.
Our goal is to find the very best ingredients and to handle them as gently as possible.
We use two different methods when we manufacture our shrimp hatchery feed. The components for our Excella PRO feed are processed through a cold extruder. The cold extruder does, as the name suggests, provide little to no heat treatment, so all the ingredients keep their vitamins, pigments, fatty acids and proteins intact. We have also substituted wheat with other binders that don’t need heat treatment. Our Optima PRO is manufactured from nutritious ingredients, including a spray-dried whitefish fishmeal that we produce ourselves. We process the ingredients using a technique known as agglomeration.
It can be described as the opposite of a quick-fix method, treating every ingredient as gently as possible. Where the components of extruder-manufactured feed are compressed before being cut into pellets, agglomerated feed is constructed layer upon layer, like a snowball, before being sterilized by irradiation. Thus we have been able to create a feed that preserves the important nutrients in every ingredient while still being easy to handle, ship and store.