The science of feed formulation

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The science of feed formulation

1 Nutritional needs of animals

An important prerequisite for formulating feed is understanding the nutritional needs of the animal. Formulators must not only refer to the animal nutritional requirements in books, but also adjust the formula in a timely manner based on specific conditions such as the breeding environment and feeding management.

2 Nutritional composition of feed ingredients

Compound feed is composed of a variety of raw materials. The nutritional composition of the feed product can be calculated based on the known or estimated nutritional content and formula of the raw materials. There are thousands of feed raw materials used in the world. Crop growth, harvesting and processing conditions vary in different regions, and the nutrient types and contents of the same raw materials will also change accordingly. In actual formulation, in addition to referring to relevant feeding standards (such as NRC, CRC, etc.), formulators should also have the knowledge and skills to accurately understand the nutritional value of existing feed ingredients.

3 Cost and supply of feed ingredients

With the continuous development and application of new alternative raw materials, formulators can design thousands of feed formulas based on their nutritional content and cost, as well as animal nutritional needs. From the perspective of feed formulation, these formulas can meet the nutritional needs of animals and the requirements for raw material limits, and are all “feasible”; however, due to the different costs of each raw material involved in each formula, there is a certain price difference between formulas. difference. A set of raw materials in a proportion that results in the lowest cost feed product is considered the lowest cost formulation, but this does not mean sacrificing quality. The lowest cost formulation must meet the desired level of quality, and its quality depends largely on the formulator’s skillful use of nutritional content and ingredient limits.

4 Application of Mathematics to Minimum Cost Recipes

Not all minimum cost formula systems are linear programming, and in most cases other mathematical methods are still required. Although it requires a lot of computer calculations, “recipe software” here refers to a systematic, iterative process of solution steps rather than a computer programming language. This technique solves real-world problems by using linear functions. Variables in linear functions are restrictive. Linear programming is a relatively new technology in the field of mathematical operations. This theory of the most common computing technology was originally proposed by George B. Dantzig in 1947. Because high-volume calculations were required and high-speed computers were not available at the time, the technology was not popularized.

5 Computer and formula design

The feed industry was one of the first to recognize the role of linear programming. Computer software has been used to develop feed formulations as early as the late 1860s. These early systems accessed mainframe computers via dial-up terminals and, although many times faster than manual operation, were slow, bulky, and expensive compared to today’s systems. In the late 1970s, the development of computer technology improved the computing speed and formula design capabilities, and the price also decreased. At this time, the formula computing speed was 30 s/formula, and the computer cost 65,000 US dollars/unit. Only large feed companies used it. Since the 1980s, with the arrival of microcomputer systems (personal computers), computer technology has achieved a real breakthrough. The software calculation speed is accelerated (less than 0.1 s/recipe), and the price of computers is also cheap, making the use of recipe software popular.

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