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Feed Mill Management

Feed Mill Management

Feed generally is considered to be the major input for livestock, poultry production and may account for 70-80 percent of total production cost. So, if we can produce high quality feed at most economical way, it will not only cut the cost of production, but also yield high profits. One needs to produce consistency in quality and quantity 365 days a year. For this consistent quality & quantity – feed mill management plays an important role; that mainly involves 4 M’s:

  • Material Management
  • Machines Management
  • Manpower Management
  • Money Management

1. Material Management:


Material mainly includes; raw material & finish goods management like moisture of raw material, protein, ash, silica, oil range in grains. Quality check in terms of toxicity in grains. All these parameters plays a vital role in feed nutrition and profit statement, as small miscalculation may leads to huge financial loss as mentioned:

Moisture loss

Moisture loss is calculated on the basis of average moisture of raw material batch minus average moisture of finish goods. Example - let us assume a standard broiler feed formulation as mentioned:

  • Maize          – 60 % in formulation by weight having 14 % moisture
  • Soya Doc     – 25 % in formulation by weight having 9.5 % moisture
  • DORB           – 10 % in formulation by weight having 9 % moisture
  • Other material like MBM, gluten etc. – 5 % in formulation by weight having 9 % moisture

Considering 1000 kg batch; total average moisture in raw material batch is:

600 x 14 % + 250 x 9.5 % + 100 x 9 % + 50 x 9 % = 121.25 kg (moisture/water) in 1000 kg of grain. Equals to 12.125 % average moisture in complete batch…… (a)

Ideal moisture of finish pellets in bag is considered between 11 to 12 %, depending upon the atmospheric temperature & humidity. Cooling is an evaporative process, so moisture reduction is essential. But there may be times when over cooling happens leading to over drying. If average moisture of finish good is 10.5 %, considering the statement ….a, average moisture loss or shrinkage will be 12.125 – 10.5 = 1.625 %.

For a feed mill manufacturing 200 MT a day, calculation of 1.625 % @ average price of 24 rs/kg - whole batch; daily loss = 78,000 rs . Apart from this monetary loss there is fluctuation in formulation too.

With net profit margins in some feed companies being low as 1 to 2 %, this factor alone could influence whether or not that company returns a profit or loss, so it really is a vital part of feed mill management.

Same calculation can be done in terms of protein, energy & oil requirement as per breed. Extra nutrients may leads to financial loss and low nutrition calculation provides less growth in birds and animals.

Following process can be followed to reduce /monitor this loss as mentioned:

  • Moisture check in raw material before or at the time of procurement.
  • Sampling at different locations – after batching - grinding - conditioning – pelleting – cooling and final product for moisture check – as and when required.
  • Corrective action as per reports like – temperature at grinding, moisture addition in mixer, quality & quantity of steam, retention time in conditioner, cooler setting in terms of bed level and sensor , blower valve setting as per temperature , cleaning of cyclone & ducts , moisture and weather conditions etc. 
  • Various automation modules help in inventory management of raw material by getting feedback from weigh scale ( raw material in ) , Material stock in ware house & daily weight of finish goods out from feed mill . (Every 10th day - thrice a month)
  • After all corrective measures; there is still some amount of shrinkage (due to limitations in raw material availability as per season, price of grains, chances of mold /fungus in finish feed in rainy season, machinery behavior & limitation w.r.t. different formulations etc.) ; it’s wise to consider 0.5 % - 0.6 %  process loss in cost estimations . Also each plant should recognize where shrink or gain may occur and make the best possible effortsto control and minimize these losses

2. Machines Management:

 Machines management mainly includes – Optimum production process parameters, Preventive maintenance, general hygiene & safety etc.

A. Process Parameters:

Process parameters are important part of any quality control program. This is the process of measuring specific components of feed or ingredients at different stages like batching, grinding, mixing, conditioning, pelleting, cooling, crumbling, screening and packing.

In batching we have to take care that the initial moisture of the combine raw material batch should not exceed 12-12.5 %;

In grinding we have to maintain following parameters: (for poultry broiler pellets)

  • Particle Size: More than 80 % of average particle size should be below 1 mm.
  • Gap between Hammer tip & Screen: As for fine grinding we need lesser gap between hammer tip & screen and for coarse grinding we need more gap between hammer tip & screen. There should be gap adjustment feature in hammer mill for different types of grinding texture required.

    For all types of grinding solution Lark provides QGA “Quick Gap Adjustment”, as its name implies this technology is a boon for grinding different sizes of products as Fine /Medium / Coarse by quick change of gap between hammer tip and screen.
  • Tip speed of hammer mill: Ideal Tip speed for a hammer mill should be 19000 -22000 FT/Min
  • Specific energy of hammer mill: Average ideal power consumption of grinding unit should not be more than 9 units/ton.
  • Temperature difference; Material in and out: Maximum difference in the grinding temperature (material in versus material out) should not be more than 5 degrees.

In mixing we have to maintain following parameters:

  • CV should be less than 5.
  • Oil should be added after dry mixing (Medicine) of minimum 90 to 120 seconds.

In Conditioning & Pelleting:

  • Minimum 60 seconds of retention time with adjustments to decrease or increase the retention time.
  • Minimum 1.5 to 2.0 % moisture should be added through conditioners.
  • Double shaft design for better mixing of steam.
  • Multi –Point steam injections.
  • Temperature range should be 75-85 degrees.
  • Steam pressure at boiler should be 8.5-9.5 kg/cm2
  • Steam pressure after PRV should be 2.0 to 2.5 kg/cm2.
  • Steam should be Dry Saturated.
  • PDI of Pellets should be more than 85 %.
  • Specific energy consumption of pellet mill should not be more than 15 units/ton.


  • Maximum variation in temperature after pellet cooler should not be more than + - 5 degrees of ambient temperature.
  • Moisture of pellets after cooler should be in between 11.0 to 11.5 %

Crumbling & Screening

  • Fines % in crumbling process should not be more than 25 %.( depend upon different formulation , particle size required and PDI)
  • In any case recycling in Finisher Pellet, Finisher Crumbs, Starter & Pre-Starter should not be more than 10 %, 15 %, 18 % and 25% respectively.
  • Ideal moisture in finish feed should be in between 11.0 to 11.5. Too high moisture lowers the feed quality and leads to toxicity or fungus and too less moisture leads to process loss.
  • Fines percentage ( below 1 mm ) in packing bags in Finisher pellet , Finisher crumbs , Starter and pre-starter should not be more than 4 % , 7 % , 10 % and 12% respectively

Preventive Maintenance

Well, “A stich in time saves nine”. Maintenance is an important part of feed mill management. The main purpose of regular maintenance is to ensure that all equipment required for production is operating at 100 % efficiency at all times. It must be a part of the daily schedule.

As we all know, livestock needs feed on daily basis and there is no space for unwanted breakdowns in feed mills. Every feed miller must be aware of the importance of preventive maintenance. For this we have developed special checklists & formats on daily , weekly , monthly and yearly basis in different languages.

Few check points for machinery are:

  • Intake Chain
    •         Checking of Motor, Gear Box and Chain condition
    •  Abnormal Sound
    • Check Drag Chain Slackness
    • Greasing of Bearings
    •  Checking of PVC Scrapers
  • Jute Remover
    • Rotor Change
    • Greasing
  • Elevators
    • Check Tension in Belts
    • Belts Alignment
    • Cleaning the Boot of Elevator
    • Cleaning Top end of Elevator
    • Tightening of Bucket Bolts, Joints
    • Greasing of Bearings
  • Magnet
    • Cleaning after every 4 hours
  • Hammer Mill
    • Check Hammer Edges
    • Screen Conditions
    • Vibration
    •  Abnormal Noise
  • Pellet Mill
    • Check wearing condition of dies & rolls
    • Greasing of bearings
    • Check for any vibration & noise
    • Check position of cutting knives & deflectors.
    • Check gap between die & rolls.
  • Crumbler
    • Check wearing of crumbler rolls
    • Greasing of Bearings
    • Leakage of unbroken pellets.

Hygiene &safety:

The ability to protect raw materials and finished feeds from harmful contaminants is crucial to ensure animal performance. By improving the microbiological quality of the feed, animals can utilize the full nutritional benefit of each ingredient with lowered risk for sickness and transmission of diseases.

Raw materials and feeds constitutes as one of the most important causes of microbial contamination, such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli.Hence controlling the raw material quality and other process parameters during the feed production is very important to maintain the feed hygiene. Few other process parameters or checkpoints which help to maintain feed hygiene are:

  • Intake & Storage
    Storage of raw material in round bins or bins without dead corners helps to prevent sticking of materials .Bin cleanliness in the feed storage area is essential & should be monitored regular basis. Sticking of material & dust not only induces fungus growth but also may leads to “GRAIN DUST EXPLOSIONS”.

    Moving and handling grain creates grain dust, when combine with other components like oxygen, ignition source, dispersion can result in grain dust explosions. Proper monitoring of cleanliness, leakages at ducts & connecting chutes, fines/dust at elevator pits should be done on regular basis to avoid such incidents and to maintain proper hygiene at feed mill.
  • Liquid, Steam & oil addition
    Proper cleaning on regular basis is required where application of steam, oil or liquids comes along with grinded ingredients. For reference see the below attached images of conditioners and mixer with feed stuck at paddles, surface and shaft leading to fungus / bacterial growth.
  • Sampling:
    Sampling at different stages; after batching, mixing, grinding, conditioning, pelleting, cooling & bagging helps to control moisture, detect fungus growth and other quality parameters.

3. Manpower Management:

Manpower management involves effective utilization of labor &staff, trainings as per requirement,defining & delegating duties & responsibilities of feed mill staff as mentioned:

Responsibilities of Plant Manager:

  • Plan, organize, direct and run optimum day-to-day operations to exceed our customers’ expectations
  • Increase production, assets capacity and flexibility while minimizing unnecessary costs and maintaining current quality standards
  • Be responsible for production output, product quality and on-time shipping
  • Allocate resources effectively and fully utilize assets to produce optimal results
  • Implement strategies in alignment with strategic initiatives and provide a clear sense of direction and focus
  • Monitor operations and trigger corrective actions
  • Share a trusting relationship with workgroup and recruit, manage and develop plant staff
  • Collect and analyse data to find places of waste or overtime
  •  Commit to plant safety procedures
  • Develop systems and processes that track and optimise productivity and standards, metrics and performance targets to ensure effective return on assets
  • Address employees’ issues or grievances and administer collective bargaining agreements
  • Influence and learn from below
  • Stay up to date with latest production management best practices and concepts

Responsibilties of Pellet operator

  • Follow all established plant safety rules.
  • Keep work area clean & orderly.
  • Follow a schedule of routine cleaning, greasing & maintenance for all pelleting and related equipment and advise appropriate personnel when maintenance is required.
  • Properly adjust pellet mill rolls, scrapper, crumbler rolls and other equipment to maximize efficiency and equipment life.
  • Operate the pellet mill with proper moisture, heat and production rates to efficiently produce products while maintain pellet quality.
  • Tends machine that presses ingredients into feed pellets for poultry stock feed 
  • Turns steam valves to regulate temperature of mash feed.
  • Observes ammeter & feed material to pellet mill by increasing/decreasing the speed of feeder as per motor amperage.
  •  Turn steam valves to regulate temperature of molasses
  • Adjust flow of air to cool pellets in cooler.
  • Follow procedure for fitting a new die, starting a new die, flushing dies, removing dies, fiiting roll shells, rings etc. concerned with pellet mill.

Responsibilties of Boiler operator

  • Operates fired boilers to generate required steam.
  • Observes pressure, temperature, and draft meters on panel to verify specified operation.
  • Turns valves and adjusts controls to set specified fuel feed, water level, and steam pressure of boiler
  • Testing and treat boiler feed water, using specified chemicals.
  • Activate valves to maintain required amounts of water in boilers, to adjust supplies of combustion air, and to control the flow of fuel into burners
  • Adjust controls and/or valves on equipment to provide power, and to regulate and set operations of system and/or industrial processes.
  • Analyze problems and take appropriate action to ensure continuous and reliable operation of equipment and systems
  • Monitor and inspect equipment, switches, valves, gauges, alarms, safety devices, and meters to detect leaks or malfunctions, and to ensure that equipment is operating efficiently and safely.
  • Perform or arrange for repairs, such as complete overhauls, replacement of defective valves, gaskets, or bearings, and/or fabrication of new parts
  • Observe and interpret readings on gauges, meters, and charts registering various aspects of boiler operation, in order to ensure that boilers are operating properly.
  • Test electrical systems to determine voltages, using voltage meters
  • Maintain daily logs of operation, maintenance, and safety activities, including test results, instrument readings, and details of equipment malfunctions and maintenance work.

Responsibilties of Electrician technician

  • Troubleshoots, repairs and maintains electrical distribution systems including electric motors, electric controls, fire alarms, and clock systems
  • Assemble, install, test, and maintain electrical or electronic wiring, equipment, appliances, apparatus
  • Diagnose malfunctioning systems, apparatus, and components, using test equipment and hand tools, to locate the cause of a breakdown and correct the problem.
  • Connect wires to circuit breakers, transformers, or other components
  • Advise management on whether continued operation of equipment could be hazardous
  • Test electrical systems and continuity of circuits in electrical wiring, equipment, and fixtures, using testing devices such as ohmmeters, voltmeters to ensure compatibility and safety of system
  • Install ground leads and connect power cables to equipment, such as motors
  • Perform business management duties such as maintaining records and files, preparing reports and ordering supplies and equipment.
  • Repair or replace wiring, equipment

Responsibilties of Maintenance Personnel

  • Responsible for the completion of all maintenance service requests as assigned
  • Maintain inventory controls for cost effective operations
  • Schedule and complete the "Preventative Maintenance Program"
  • Assure safety standards are used which comply with all machinery.
  • Periodically grease machinery & all maintenance as per schedule.

4. Money Management:

Money Management involves all calculations like financial statement in terms of raw material cost, processing cost,consumables, bank interests, bad debts, credit flow in market, investment on dealers, advertisements &promotions, all hidden expenses etc.

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