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Case Histories : Processing

Buhler Helps Animal Feed Producer Achieve Top Quality
By Detlef Janssen
May 19, 2005
  E-mail article
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Uzwil, Switzerland -- Animal feed is indirectly also a human food. In the production of its high-quality poultry feed, the Aliqual feed manufacturing plant in France therefore adopts the hygiene standards that apply to the production of food for human consumption. The thermal feed treatment system developed by Buhler is unique throughout Europe.

To trust is good, but to check is better. This holds true especially in areas where perfect sanitation is demanded. Until recently, this concerned mainly the production of foods for human consumption. More and more, however, also the animal feed industry is adopting the same stringent hygiene standards. The main reason for this is because ultimately a large part of the animals that have consumed the feed or the related animal products will end up as food for human consumption.

Moreover, no animal breeder will ever want to have to slaughter animals out of necessity just because he is unable to prove that his feed was bacteriologically safe. Retraceability, zero-defect tolerance, and strict separation of processing sections are therefore the order of the day also in formulated feed production. The new Buhler system for hygienizing compound feeds installed in the modern Aliqual feed manufacturing plant satisfies these demands.

Strict separation

In designing the Aliqual feed manufacturing plant, no effort was spared to satisfy the demand for zero-defect tolerance. This becomes evident when you see the two separated towers of the plant. In the larger one, conventional feed is processed; the smaller one, on the other hand, has been entirely designed for making high-grade, thermally treated feed from the very best of meals.

Separation is uncompromising. Thus, all trucks collecting the poultry feed use two different paths, depending on whether they are to load conventional feeds or sanitized high-safety products. Each driver is identified before entering the loading lock. This, too, is a safety precaution to ensure retraceability of the feed. The smaller of the two production towers can only be accessed through locks, and anyone entering it must don special footwear and overalls. The air is filtered down to a particle size of 0.4 microns, a value meeting hospital standards.

Three stages

The batch thermal treatment system applied at Aliqual is a European premiere. Buhler was involved in the development of this three-stage process. It takes each batch of maximum 1250 kilograms seven minutes to pass through all three stages. The product is processed in separate batches and not continuously in order to ensure perfect control over all the thermal treatment parameters throughout production. Following weighing, the raw materials are intimately mixed in the first treatment stage by a Buhler Speedmix mixer provided with thermal insulation. Using steam, their temperature is raised to a certain level, which is maintained during a precisely defined time as a function of the specific feed type. Then, in a second step, a dryer-cooler adjusts the moisture content of the lot and reduces its temperature.

In the entire process, due consideration is given to the conditions required for preserving the feed and to all the relevant standards. In the third process stage, the material is fed to a second Buhler Speedmix high-speed mixer. There, the meal is homogenized, followed by the addition of micro-ingredients and temperature-sensitive substances such as vitamins and trace elements. This three-stage patented Buhler process involving mixing & heating, drying & cooling, and mixing & enrichment produces feed meals meeting the most rigorous food hygiene standards. In addition, the new Buhler process allows hygienized meals to be made with promising physical properties. The benefits include outstanding rheological characteristics, simplified handling, and very low dust generation.


The annual output of Aliqual is currently around 25,000 metric tons, but the goal is to raise this to 70,000 tons of thermally treated feeds. The present capacity per hour is ten tons of treated meal. The mealy feed is used for feeding breeding hens. Their eggs are not consumed by humans, but serve for breeding chickens. The feed is also excellently suited to producing the gourmet specialty of “foie gras”. Part of the output designed for fattening swimming birds is exported to Spain. The physico-chemical properties of the thermally treated fattening feeds improve the result of fattening, the health of the animals, and the quality of the liver pâté. The opening of the Aliqual feed manufacturing plant attracted the attention of the industry.

The scientific director of the French Feed Association UCAAB (today INZO), Jean-Pierre Tillon, greatly welcomed this technology: “True innovation in the field of agriculture is something very rare. I would not be surprised if one day all animal feeds had to be subjected to this batch hygienizing process.”

Buhler is a global Technology Group and System Partner for plant and equipment and for process expertise in the fields of Food Processing, Chemical Engineering, and Die Casting, with a worldwide payroll of about 6,100.

For more information on the “Aliqual Project”, please contact:
Mr. Laurent Castex
Head of Feed Business Unit - Buhler Paris
Telephone: +33 1 49 89 60 68
Fax: +33 1 49 89 60 51
Email laurent.castex@buhlergroup.com
Web site: http://www.buhlergroup.com/

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