The physical characteristics of a premix are crucial in ensuring flowability, mixability, and homogeneity of a blend, as separation of the components during transport and feed manufacture can be detrimental in ensuring a consistent ration of nutrients to an animal.
Hygroscopic ingredients, such as niacin or choline, can cause both physical and chemical issues within a premix in humid conditions. Weight increase and a visual score is given to determine how ingredients behave during manufacture and under different environmental conditions.
Left Jar: niacinamide with 1% flow agent inclusion;
Right Jar: plain niacinamide
The difference between a kilogram of rocks and a kilogram of feathers – one takes up a large amount of space per unit of weight. Bulk density is determined for both individual ingredients to provide an estimate of a premix’s bulk density or done on the premix itself. Modifications of premix carriers can be done to increase or decrease bulk density, to better fit in a bag, or flow better through a feed mill.
Flowability of a premix or ingredient is fundamental for avoiding problems during manufacture of the premix itself and prevent clumping. The flowability of an ingredient can be determined using an Agway funnel, either free flow or with a motorized rotator to simulate the machinery of premix manufacture. Flowability is classified by the time it takes for a quantity of product to flow through the funnel. Once material flows through the funnel, the height and radius of the cone is measured to calculate the Angle of Repose. Ingredients with good flowability have a low angle of repose (flat cone), and ingredients or premix with poor flowability have a large angle of repose and form tall cone.
Dusty premixes or ingredients are a concern for health and safety of workers handling the ingredient, as well as potential loss of active ingredients and cross contamination.
The Heubach Dustmeter is used to determine the amount of airborne dust from a sample. A rotating drum generates dust from a sample, with fine dust collects on a filter. The filter weight is used to calculate mg of dust per 100g sample of ingredient.
Particle Size distribution - The ideal bell-shaped distribution of a premix can only be attained if a good quality carrier (wheat middlings or rice hulls) with a similar particle size distribution to the nutritive particles is used. Fine vitamin particles can segregate easily if the carrier has a large particle size (eg calcium carbonate).
Vitamins and minerals range in particle size, from large particles (e.g., Vitamin E) to small dense particles (e.g., minerals). It is important for all the components in a blend to remain suspended within the premix during transportation, mill or equipment vibration. Determining how a specific premix behaves under these conditions can be tested using a Vibratory trough, which simulates segregation cause by vibration and fall.
Your dsm-firmenich Quality team and Nutritional Services can improve premix quality characteristics where possible and are currently investigating further aspects to improve premix quality, so stay tuned!
16 May 2022
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