Using Emulsifiers to Reduce Feed Cost

October 15, 2021

Using Emulsifiers to Reduce Feed Cost

The current shortage of corn for use in feed production has led to an increase in raw material prices, which in turn cuts into profit margins for many farms in the country. Nutritional requirements still have to be met in order to turn a decent profit, and striking that balance between nutrition and cost can be a difficult task.

There are, of course, options, though some are less attractive than others. There are ways that increase the efficiency of feed, in order to meet the nutritional requirements of the animals while keeping the material amounts the same. Emulsifiers in particular are an excellent way to increase the amount of energy absorbed from the oils in feed.

Oils, which are high in energy, are a great addition to feed for animals when trying to make up for low energy values in feed. However, since oil and water don’t mix, these energy-dense oils don’t easily get absorbed in the mostly water environment of an animal’s  digestive system. While animal (and human) digestive systems have ways to break down and absorb oils, it’s not perfect, and increased amounts of oils can either be wasted, or worse, cause problems in an animal’s digestive system.

Emulsifiers work through a clever molecular trick: one side of the molecule binds readily with water, and the other side binds readily with water. This allows the emulsifier to be absorbed by the watery digestive system, while taking the energy-rich oil with it. This trick also breaks up large droplets of oil into smaller droplets, increasing their surface area, and making absorption easier, similar to how granulated sugar will dissolve faster in water than a single, large sugar crystal. This lets the animal extract the maximum nutritional value from the feed.

Because of their properties, emulsifiers in effect increase the amount of oils absorbed by the animal, which means more energy is available for the animal to use, without actually increasing the amount of raw materials included in the food. While emulsifiers themselves introduce cost to feed formulation, the money saved by reducing feed ingredients more than offset this, giving you net savings.