From starter crumbs through to poult release pellets; we know when to feed them and how much, but do we understand how they’re made? 

This is the first in a series of three articles looking into how feed is actually made here at Sportsman Game Feeds. How do we create a finished product from a selection of raw materials, all the while keeping Quality at the very forefront of what we do?

We will start by taking a closer look at those raw materials and the careful monitoring that takes place to ensure we produce high quality feed with consistent nutritional and physical quality.

Raw Materials and Testing

The major raw materials used at Sportsman Game Feeds include cereals, cereal by-products and oils and fats. These important ingredients contribute significant quantities of energy and protein to the diet. Therefore, it is vital that throughout the year, we understand the nutritional and physical quality of all our raw materials to create the most suitable formulation for the birds.

In previous Sportsman articles, we have covered the major raw materials and their nutritional properties, so we will aim to understand how we go about selecting and approving them for production to build the different diets.

Part of our commitment to ensuring traceability at every level of the Agri-Food Supply chain means we only procure from approved and assured suppliers for all raw materials. We utilise their data combined with additional local and independent tests to clarify the nutritional composition, any microbial risk and the capability of the raw material to produce a high quality finished feed.

Visual Assessment and Physical Quality

Every incoming load of raw materials is sampled at intake and undergoes a process of visual inspection to ensure consistency of quality coming in to the mill and identify any potential contamination, moulds or other foreign objects. This includes harvest pests such as weevils and mites as well as fungal diseases like ergot and fusarium. Loads of incoming raw materials which fail the required checks on delivery to the mill are rejected.

We further use a local testing system which analyses moisture and specific (bushel) weight of incoming grain. 

We test for moisture at intake for two main reasons; firstly, to provide an indication of what dry matter our finished products will likely achieve, and secondly, a high moisture raw material could be a microbial risk and encourage mould growth reducing the time it can be stored on farm.

Specific (Bushel) Weight
We also test for specific (bushel) weight, this is a measure of grain density and the raw material’s ability to produce a high quality finished feed. A lower bushel weight grain can be more challenging and may not achieve the best physical quality results. A lower bushel weight is also associated with lower energy levels in the grain.

Nutritional Quality

In addition to local testing we also complete regular independent tests, these include the following analyses:
•    Microbial – including moulds and salmonella
•    Chemical residues – including undesirables
•    Nutritional composition

Taking a closer look at nutritional composition; being aware of this is vital to build the most appropriate diet for the birds, we must understand what the nutrient variation of the individual raw material is at all times to ensure we assign the right values for formulation. 

To achieve this we continually test throughout the year for a number of nutrients including moisture, protein, oil, starch and energy to capture any changes between crops and the impact of harvest. 

The results of these individual analytes (as well as many more) for each raw material are then used to determine a matrix value, a calculated average that is applied to the raw material taking in to consideration factors such as source. These matrix values are used to construct each diet determining the percentage contribution per raw material to achieve the targeted nutrient composition of the finished product. 

Producing a high quality game feed very much relies on the use of consistent, high quality raw materials. Here at Sportsman Game Feeds we utilise rigorous visual, physical and nutritional testing in order to approve raw materials for use and continually validate our results so that all the diets in our ranges are best suited to the birds throughout the season.