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Resolving Poor Pellet Quality and Maintaining Amino Acid Digestibility in Turkey Feed Manufacture

21 October 2013

Researchers at West Virginia University have succeeded in finding a better compromise between feed pellet quality and amino acid digestibility in commercial turkey diets. Inclusion of a binder improved digestibility of amino acids in small pellets but its effect was not significant when a larger pellet die was used.

Commercial turkey feed manufacturing often requires high throughput and high levels of fat, resulting in poor pellet quality, according to K.G.S. Wamsley and J.S. Moritz of West Virginia University.

In a paper in Journal of Applied Poultry Research, they explain that many mills use low mixer-added fat (MAF) to improve ingredient binding and pellet quality but this technique may decrease feed nutrient digestibility.

They conducted two experiments to determine the best feed manufacture technique (MTECH) to maximise pellet quality and maintain amino acid digestibility of commercial-type turkey diets.

Experiment 1 was a three-binder (binder 1, binder 2 or natural binder) × two-MTECH factorial design that used commercial-type turkey starter diets manufactured at West Virginia University’s pilot feed mill. The MTECH treatments were one per cent MAF + 38.1-mm die (MTECH1) or three per cent MAF + 44.9-mm die (MTECH2).

In experiment 1, both binders improved pellet quality. Employing MTECH2 decreased pellet quality minimally (by around five per cent by the modified pellet durability index) and pellet mill electrical energy usage by around 15 per cent).

Diets that contained binder 1 - the marginally better binder - and natural binder used at each MTECH were chosen to test amino acid digestibility using the standardised digestibility assay with caecectomised roosters in experiment 2.

The inclusion of binder 1 improved the digestibility of several tested amino acids. There was a binder × MTECH interaction, in that when binder was removed from diets manufactured utilising MTECH1, the digestibility of some amino acids decreased, whereas MTECH2 maintained high amino acid digestibility regardless of binder.


Wamsley K.G.S. and J.S. Moritz. 2013. Resolving poor pellet quality and maintaining amino acid digestibility in commercial turkey diet feed manufacture. J. Appl. Poult. Res. 22(3):439-446. doi:10.3382/japr.2012-00657

Further Reading

You can view the full paper (fee payable) by clicking here.

October 2013

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