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Binders in Animal Feed Pelleting

Binders in Animal Feed Pelleting
Feed pelleting is a complex and delicate process which depends on many different criteria such as feed formulation, moisture, raw material abrasiveness, particle size, conditioning, fat or molasses levels added, die maintenance, roll settings, cooling temperature. Those criteria differ from one feed factory to another, and so does final pellet quality (dust) and homogenity (nutrients). A carefully designed feed pellet binder assists the feed compounder in delivering a consistent quality feed pellet whilst improving and controlling the production economics for clients.
Pellet binders (or pelleting performance enhancers) are additives which are incorporated to a feed in low concentrations (0.5 to 2.5 %) to hold the various feed components together, increase the durability and the hardness of pellets and the efficiency of pelleting during subsequent operations and after they are extruded from the pellet die.

animal feed pellets

Many products have been tested and a limited number have become widely used as binders in pelleted animal feeds. Current commercial animal feed binders can generally be classified under one of the following categories:
Lignin based binders/lignosulfonates
Hemi-cellulose binders
Mineral binders (clays)
Specialty binders (gums, starches, formulated products, etc.)
A number of the current binders in use are based on by-products from making wood and paper products. Some of the binders are mined minerals such as bentonite clays. Other substances, such as polysaccharides could be used in marine animal feed. In addition, there are numerous specialty binders that are based on certain types of products that are manufactured and/or selected or formulated for use as binders.
Effect of binders
At a test in USA, the interaction between temperature, pellet binder and production rate was measured. During feed pelleting process, every five minutes samples were taken after the die to test for fines and pellet durability. Pellet quality clearly improved with temperature. Durability was relatively high at the peak temperature and low in the valley temperature.
Increasing temperature typically led to reduced amperage, at least until the choke point was reached. When the conditioning temperature rose above 85°C amperage began to increase. At this point the choke point was being approached. In a second run 1.25% lignin binder was mixed into the ration. At the start of this run there was a very evident improvement in pellet quality and reduction in amperage. Temperature was able to reach 90°C with little indication of a potential choke. Production rate increased more than 20% in the run with the pellet binder included without negative effects on feed pellets.