In order to turn these dynamic data sets into a more useful tool that report historical data in real time, NIR has been adopted by many feed manufacturers and livestock integrators because it is rapid, reliable, accurate, nondestructive and relatively inexpensive. Today, in-house NIR equipment and PNE have cut the nutrient analysis time of ingredients down to mere minutes.
The PNE proposition
Using NIR to determine the proximate analyses (protein, fat, fiber, ash and moisture) for individual ingredients, and to a lesser extent mixed feeds, has been around for years. So when Adisseo started to work with NIR technology over 10 years ago, they knew they wanted to do something different and innovative. This is when PNE was conceived and developed.
“At Adisseo, we made the decision to take NIR one step further and develop DAA and AME calibrations. To do this, Adisseo had to put an extensive amount of resources into developing NIR calibrations and the PNE database,” Gately noted. “As a result, Adisseo started testing ingredients in vivo at their research facility in Commentry, France, using the rooster assay for DAA and the 3-week-old broiler assay for AME analyses. In a typical AME trial, 3-week-old chicks are fed a complete diet and a diet where part of it is replaced with the test ingredient. The excreta are then collected, freeze dried and analyzed for moisture, gross energy and nitrogen content. The comparison between the energy in the two diets vs. the respective excreta is made to determine the amount of energy (AME) that the bird was able to extract from the ingredient. The AME trial setup for each ingredient is replicated several times for statistical purposes, and is therefore a very laborious, time-extensive and expensive possess.”
This process resulted in AME calibrations for corn, wheat and soybean meal, along with total and phytate phosphorus information for nine ingredients and total and digestible amino acid calibration equations for 25 ingredient types.
The first step in obtaining an accurate analysis is grinding. Grinding a sample ingredient to 1 millimeter (this is the same as 1,000 microns) reduces particle size and increases the uniformity of particle distribution throughout the sample that is scanned on the NIR. Grinding also allows for a more complete penetration, reflection and detection of light from the sample. It is important that samples are not ground too fast, as this will overheat and change the nutrient composition of the sample. When the customer uploads a spectral file to PNE via internet, the user defines the sample type, origin of sample and the analyses desired. Once submitted, PNE compares the sample spectra to its core calibrations for the chosen ingredient and predicts the AME, total and phytate phosphorus, and total and digestible amino acids within approximately two to three minutes.
“When we first made Adisseo’s NIR service available to its customers, pre-PNE, it took two to four hours to turn sample spectra around into actual data. Today, PNE’s calibrations are encrypted in the cloud, analyses are returned within two to three minutes, and data are always available to the customer in case they want to create trend charts for purchasing or nutrition-related activities,” said Shirley.
Near-instant turnaround time is unique to PNE, and has the ability to significantly change how feeds are formulated, ingredients are purchased and managed, and how feed cost is minimized.
After the drought of 2012, feed prices shot up to record-breaking prices and highlighted how flexibility can be an asset when formulating feed. Amino acids, energy and phosphorus are the most expensive components in a feed formula, and Adisseo’s PNE gives accurate data for all three at the same time. This allows nutritionists to change the blend of feed ingredients and formula specifications, knowing that the formula will meet the nutritional requirements for healthy and efficient growth and production.
In order to validate the usefulness of PNE in production, “Adisseo has conducted a number of broiler performance trials, where book values were compared against PNE values for AME and DAA. In all the trials, improvements in feed conversion were consistently observed when nutrient values from PNE were used. These trials clearly demonstrate the biological and financial value of knowing the nutritional composition of feed ingredients,” Gately said.