This is the final article in the “how feed is made” series. So far we have covered the intake of all raw materials and followed these through the manufacturing process, ending with finished products.

As we have delved into these areas we have touched on the different methods of Quality Control and their integral importance to ensuring physical and nutritional consistency and quality of all finished feeds. 

This final article will now aim to understand in greater detail just what these methods are and what that means for the feed and, ultimately, the birds.

Quality Assurance and Quality Control
Before we enter the world of Quality Control (QC), it is worth understanding the difference between QC and Quality Assurance (QA).

QA is the overarching term for what we do to ensure that all products will be of the quality and safety required for their intended use and encompasses anything pre, during and post manufacture. Objectives include preventing risk to animal and human health and welfare, setting raw material purchasing specifications, minimising product quality complaints, and many more.

This is the proactive element of quality and means that before we even begin production we have to be sure that everything including, but not limited to, our processes, people and plants are capable of making the desired feeds to their intended quality and safety.

However, for the purposes of this article we will consider in greater detail what falls under Quality Control. QC is the reactive part of QA concerned with inspection, sampling and testing of product during and post manufacturing against specification. QC is our way of checking and confirming that the process is working and therefore enables us to make any necessary changes.

The Sportsman Game Feeds methods of QC can be further broken down into two distinct areas; physical and nutritional quality.

Physical quality
To ensure consistency of physical quality we use three key analyses; pre-pellet grist, Holmen and sieve testing.

Pre-pellet Grist
Grist testing is carried out to check the particle size profile of feed when it is in meal form prior to pelleting. A daily sample is collected and placed in the specially constructed set of sieves which will then be shaken for 1 minute. 
The sieves work by separating the meal. The percentage retained on each one indicates the grind profile, we compare this to our standards to ensure production of a well-formed pellet. 
If a sample were to fall outside of this specification it could indicate a hole in the grinder screen, wear in the grinding system or potentially a poorer quality raw material. In terms of reacting to these results, we could then look to repair/replace the grinder screen or review our intake of cereal grains.

This test takes place after pelleting and cooling to determine durability. The Holmen machine stresses the pellets by simulating feed being blown from a bulk vehicle into a bin on farm. This allows us to predict what the end product reaching the birds would look like. This is also important with bagged game feeds due to the level of handling that takes place.
As with grist testing we have set quality parameters consisting of both target and action limits. Samples that fall outside of these parameters can drive actions including a review of the formulation, throughput speed and external fat sprays.

Sieve testing
We also sieve test all crumb rations. The methodology is the same as that used for pre-pellet grist, the only difference being that we complete this on the finished product and are therefore able to determine the profile which will be presented to the birds.
Crumb that falls outside of set specifications could be as a result of crumbler setting changes or even a pre-pellet grist issue, improvement actions include amending these settings.

Nutritional quality
As well as physical quality, measuring the nutritional quality is critical to QC at Sportsman Game Feeds. We test for this using chemical analysis at a laboratory.

Laboratory analysis
We continually test our finished products throughout the year for a number of nutrients including moisture, protein, oil and minerals. 
These results are reviewed daily to ensure that the nutritional requirements of the birds are met. Any result that falls outside of specification would drive an investigation to understand the cause and make any necessary changes to bring these back in tolerance whether it be manufacturing or raw material related. 

Quality Assurance and Control are integral to producing high quality and consistent game feeds. The focus at Sportsman includes both physical and nutritional quality with the end goal being that the product which reaches the animal is safe and meets the quality standards which have been set. This process starts before the feed is manufactured and continues right through until after it has been eaten with a number of testing methods along the way.