How to reduce pelleting energy requirement in feed mills

Find out how changing pellet size can use less energy in the feed mill.

Close up of animal feed in pellet form
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Consider increasing the size of pellets to save on energy use

With news in the EU calling for possible rationing of electricity at households during this winter, many industries are already looking for ways to cut down on their electricity/energy demands. Some are even forced to move to other countries, but that is an extreme measure.

Pelleting requires a considerable amount of energy, and this increases dramatically as pellet diameter is reduced. For some products, it is impossible to go to a larger pellet without proper customer education, and perhaps some reformulation to ensure pellets do not become friable. But, in my opinion, this should be the first measure to be discussed, at least internally, and implemented immediately at integrated operations. A move from 2 to 3 millimeters will not cause any loss in performance in most cases (discuss this with your nutritionist) and most adult or grown-up animals can handle even larger pellets (but consider pellet hardness being a detriment to feed intake as you strive to maintain pellet integrity).

Then, it comes down to formulation. We know some ingredients tend to flow and pellet with greater difficulty, thus requiring more energy. Starch that easily becomes pasty will cause the steam-heated mass to move with greater resistance, thus requiring more energy to produce a pellet (that will be quite durable, by the way). On the other hand, adding more oil and even some molasses will cause the mass to be pelleted to flow easier and require less energy to go through the pelleting process.

There is a limited number of technical additives that may help make pelleting less expensive in terms of energy expenditure. And, here I say “may” because it is always a matter of ingredient selection. There are some raw materials that are best kept out of the pelleting process.

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