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Tecaliman celebrates and looks ahead

Tecaliman received the French feed sector and some friends from abroad for its 2011 symposium in mid-march. Since it was its 30th anniversary the theme of the symposium was to try to look 30 years into the future of technology for feed manufacturing.

By Yanne Boloh*

“Tecaliman is a key industry and intermediate player between scientists, industrial manufacturers and the administration that supports the syndicate,” explained general manager Fabrice Putier. He expressed this position last March with a symposium to celebrate Tecaliman’s 30th anniversary. “We are much more than just a research centre, we are a genuine technological interface,” he added.

The new experimental installation to research cross contamination in feed handling is one of the more visible activities of the research centre, which is based in Nantes (western France), and which has also started to become well known abroad. Already at the IFE show (in Atlanta, last January) and at Victam (3-5 May, Cologne), Putier presented the method developed by the French centre to measure cross contamination and deal with variation coefficient of the mixer (a method which is now recognised by the European authorities).

Also the partnership between Tecaliman and the three French feed syndicates regarding sustainable feed production is very important as well as the “energy club”, which combines energy data of feed plants and publishes anonymous comparisons between plants over the last 20 years. The aim is to help feed millers to manage their energy costs, which is extremely relevant in this current period of heavy increases of energy prices. Compressed air is the next subject on the agenda.

All those subjects will still be a focus for Tecaliman over the next 30 years, that’s for sure but it wants even more. “The literature shows a lot of examples of the impact of feed processing on feed characteristics and animal performance. However, those studies are not so easy to manage as it is difficult to obtain experimental feeds,” said Alain Guyonvarc’h, research manager of InVivo Nsa. “Also the interferences between processing and raw materials are strong. But through the years, the studies helped to design the process and the main parameters of the operations, even the kind of machinery needed for specific species such as heat treatment or extrusion.”

Processing as ingredient
He explained that one of the characteristics of process parameters is that they can influence the quality of the final feed positively and negatively. The best example is heat treatment, which increases bacteriological security but might degrade vitamins and proteins. Thus, feed operators must arbitrate between technological costs (investment, operation cost) and the production improvement that those costs can generate. They might formulate the ‘usual’ way for extrusion production for aquatic species and also go for a high durability of the pellet. However, the last point of durability index is also the most costly one. “I think that current formulation systems do not take enough into account the influence of technological parameters in the final result in comparison with performance of the animal,” Guyonvarc’h said.

For the nutritionists, technology is still more a means than a research subject. At the French national research institute INRA, research will for example focus on the valorisation of new raw materials such as DDGS. But technology is only looked upon when it might improve digestibility (through pelleting, grinding). The reduction of particle size through grinding has shown to be one of the best ways to improve digestibility in pigs. This was confirmed in the Rennes laboratory and for poultry feed in the Tours lab, for lipids as well as for proteins. On the other hand, rabbits do not appreciate small particles.

Impact of grinding
The same occurs with pelleting which is known to improve lipid digestibility of raw material in pig feed. “We’ve been part of the Euretec program, developed in Nantes, and we’ve been able to show that the reduction of the particle size of rapeseed and soybean through grinding or pelleting improves lipid digestibility for poultry. Grinding also improves starch digestibility of peas,” indicated Michel Lessire, researcher of INRA at the Tours lab. “We’ve shown that a heat and mechanical treatment decreased part of the anti-nutritional factors. All those improvements have been included in our INRA nutritional tables.”

He explained that in aquafeed, the strategy of diminishing fish oil and fish meal must include the technological improvements. But he also pointed out some disadvantages such as the decrease of lysine availability in wheat or rapeseed meal when further processed.

“For tomorrow, there are still many challenges. Feed millers must decrease their costs and minimise the environmental impact of their plant. They have to find new ways to optimise the function of the animal’s digestive tract through the size and shape of the feed itself. Improvement can be achieved by increasing the sanitary conditions of the animals and farms, preventing digestive disorders and optimising the use of additives like enzymes,” Lessire concluded.

Main subjects for future Tecaliman research
  • Water activity in the feed plant
  • Interactions between powders and liquids in feed (already started)
  • Process re-engineering and eco-concepts
  • Contamination, decontamination and recontamination in a dry matrix
  • Dust, workers’ security and nanotechnology
  • Measurement of additives when they are at the limit of detection
  • Feed shape and pelleting influence on gastro intestinal absorption of microbiotics.

Uniform mixing
As an additive specialist, Jerome Lamoine of Adisseo elaborated on the impact of particle size on the even distribution of additives in each pellet of a batch. Developing a new additive goes far beyond than just composing a new active molecule. “Developing an additive can take between three and six years with investments of one to four million euros. We have to go through the administrative authorisation process and build a case with all information regarding safety, efficiency, physiochemical properties and the means to analyse it. But we also are concerned by the way feed manufacturers will use our additive: mixability and homogeneity of mixing, cross contamination risks, stability, heat resistance or the way to insure the homogeneity by post pelleting incorporation, sampling, traceability, etc. We must take care of many parameters that sometimes are contradictive, for example, a well protected additive must still be bioavailable.”

For Louis Rave, former president of Tecaliman and technologist (Techna), the main challenge of feed production will be to produce a lot more feed all over the world in the next 30 years, maybe 70% more in 2050 than today. “Research in technology will have to deal with several subjects to achieve this goal. Existing techniques need improvement since they’ve been developed in the middle of last century and must now be adapted to new raw materials, new economy and in a new regulatory context,” Rave explained. “Improving the ratio production/energy consumption as the rarefaction of energy is still badly perceived.” Rave also spoke about improving the accuracy of a sample and knowing more about samples, meaning more analysis for less cost and monitoring the process in real time. Rave believes a more hygienic concept of production lines will give feed millers the opportunity to avoid cross contamination and to use some new ingredients. “Why not use nano materials and some eco-conception of new technologies, such as for example producing wet feeds (soup, in the plant) for pigs or crumbs without pelleting.”

To be able to produce more efficiently and stay in mass production at low cost, these are the sustainable objectives given by French feed manufacturers to its technological research centre. The next 30 years will be well spent.

*Yanne Boloh is a freelance journalist from France.


Yanne Boloh

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