Pelletising of livestock feeds can make you money by Agricon
South African-based Agricon Pelleting is a worldwide supplier of pelletising machinery and feed handling equipment for agri-processing and factories. Agricon was established in 1993 and serves various customers in the animal feed market and the organic material market for fertilisers, composts and other value-added products.
Pelletising, involving the compaction of materials into small dry pellets, is a common practice in animal feed processing. This process is used globally by manufacturers of animal feed or fertiliser facilities that specialise in the processing of materials for reuse.
Since 2008 the African continent has emerged as Agricon’s largest export market, with countries like Malawi showing strong business growth potential. Agricon has also managed to reach new markets by adapting equipment to pelletise a range of specific products, such as rooibos tea, tobacco dust, organic fertilisers and compost.
Johan Eksteen, the owner of Agricon, was recently chosen from 213 entries as the 2016 Sanlam and Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year.
The annual competition gives recognition to South African entrepreneurs in the small and medium enterprise sector.
Pelletising of livestock feeds with Agricon
Agricon manufactures a range of cost-effective pelleting solutions for the agricultural and industrial sectors. The company was founded in 1993 and today is recognised worldwide for its quality pelleting machines and excellent service. With more than 20 years’ experience in the industry, Eksteen has enough knowledge to assist customers in acquiring equipment that will provide hassle-free operation for many years. Agricon also provides guidance on how to build a sustainable pelleting business.
Gugu Mjadu, the spokesman for the competition, praised Eksteen for his strong entrepreneurial aptitude and the remarkable growth of his business since he competed for the first time in the competition two years ago.
“The award is a measure of how well you compare with your competitors. Apart from the pride of victory, the award is an honour that will differentiate our business in the future from others,” says Eksteen.
In addition to the manufacturing of machines and equipment, the company also provides training and on-site installation for clients, as well as support following a sale or the provision of spare parts.
One of Agricon’s most recent innovative products is the Agri 10 – a single-phase machine with a pelletising capacity of 60-80 kg/hour for the entry-level producer. It was developed for the African market and does not require 3 phase electricity.
The benefits of pelleting
- Improved animal performance. Higher energy intake levels occur while animals spend less energy to graze.
- Pelleted feed promotes animal growth due to better feed conversion rates, in other words, better utilisation of the nutrient value of the feed.
- Due to the heat generated in the pelleting process, it improves the uptake of protein in the rumen of ruminants (thus a higher bypass protein), thereby increases amino acid availability and increases animal performance.
- Pelleting reduces wastage with up to 30% versus loose feeds, due to poor and selective eating habits.
- Pelleting will eliminate dust that will increase the palatability or taste of the feed.
- No wind loss occurs on pellets.
- Better mixing of raw materials takes place; therefore no selective feeding will take place.
- The ration is less bulky and therefore reduces storage space requirements and allows for easier transportation and handling.
Which farmer are you? The one who wastes more than 30% of his expensive feed or the one feeding pellets with a 14.2% higher digestibility and no wastage?
The savings is not only based on the fact that the middleman is eliminated, but also because the farmer has control over his formulations. In this way, the farmer can add value to poorer quality feeds and thereby reducing cost without compromising overall quality.
Typical feed wastage calculations for a medium-sized farm
- At a medium-sized farming operation, the wastage of loose feeds can be up to 200kg per day and even more, depending on feed volumes.
- With a ration cost of R2,500 per ton, wastage of R500 per ton therefore occurs.
- Over a period of 365 days, wastage will cost the farmer as much as R182,500.
- With a feed conversion rate of 6:1, a loss in weight gain of ± 12,166 kg will occur with loose feeds versus pelleted feeds.
- At a feedlot price of R21 per kg, approximately R255,486 is lost per year.
- The total loss calculation can be as much as R437,986 per year.
Potential value adds through pelleting
- Suppose the average price of lucerne is R 1,400 per ton.
- It costs R55 to mill the lucerne and R95 to do pelleting, therefore R150 + R1400 = R1,550 per ton.
- Suppose the average price for commercial lucerne pellets is R3,200 per ton.
- The profit or value add is, therefore, R1,650 per ton.
How does pelleting work?
It is very important to control the feed rate of a pelletiser otherwise the machine will constantly over- or underperform, resulting in blockages or poor production capacity. The workmanship is also very important because the machine works under huge pressure with consequent vibration, therefore the body must be durable and strong.
It takes feeds 20 seconds to go through the machine. Naturally dried feeds (about 10-12% moisture) need a little more moisture (13-15%) to activate the pellet binding process. Binding happens under extreme pressure as the pellets are pressed through the holes at a temperature of 60-90°C. The heat is simply caused by pressure and friction produced by a well-designed machine. Poorly designed machines will not reach sufficiently high temperatures, therefore needing binding agents like molasses. The pellets are then cooled by various mechanical and non-mechanical methods.
Several misconceptions prevail about pelletising because of the historical use of palletizers. The greatest evil is the inclusion of high percentages of molasses to bind the pellets. The heat will caramelise the sugars with the result that the holes become sticky and clogged. Water should, therefore, be the only activator and the pelleting machine’s compression ratio must be adjusted for the different types of feed.