Over the past 4 years, our team at Decision Innovation Solutions has had the opportunity to work with all levels of the livestock, poultry and aquaculture production industry. We have developed a solid understanding of the movement of grain and animal processing products through the system. It starts in the field and the processing plant and moves to the feed mills and ultimately to the meat and fish we consume to help meet our needs for protein.
Some livestock, poultry and aquaculture farms have their own animal nutritionists on staff and others rely on independent consulting nutritionists or nutritionists working with feed mills. We’ve learned about some of the approaches nutritionists will use to formulate feed rations to meet the needs of the production animals at various life cycle stages:
- Least cost formulation – identifying the animal’s nutritional needs and then sourcing ingredients that meet those needs at the lowest possible cost.
- Performance or quality formulation – Sourcing ingredients that maximize or produce specific results such as including flax seed to produce eggs high in Omega 3’s.
- Consumer driven formulation – sourcing feed ingredients based on what the consumer does or doesn’t want their sources of animal protein to be fed such as chickens that haven’t had animal by-products included in their rations.
A critical link in this chain is the feed preparation network collectively referred to as feed mills. The challenge our team has faced is separating the feed stores and blend sites from actual feed mills. Unfortunately, they all share the same National American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code of 311119. Since many of our clients would like a better understanding of the location of supply and demand points, we have built a knowledge base of actual feed mills.
So how do you know a particular location is a “feed mill” that actually uses equipment to grind or mill grain for animal feed? Well, most of the time they will tell you. Company websites will sometimes list their feed mill locations. Sometimes, you find out by watching for announcements of new sites or existing sites undergoing expansion or upgrade. Finally, there is always the visual analysis. Google and Bing give us the opportunity to “drive by” locations and that is sometimes enough to see things like mill towers and tanks for storing vegetable oils and/or animal fats to be added to some of the rations.
We are constantly reviewing and updating our knowledge base, so we can provide the most comprehensive and accurate information available. Over time we have developed a deep respect for the people working in the livestock industry to make sure our food supply is safe and the animals we rely on for our food are well cared for and well fed.