A guide to best practice and procedure in a modern day poultry feed mill

Richard Sevil is the National Feed-milling Manager at Baiada and is also the President of the NSW branch of the Stockfeed Manufacturer’s Council of Australia.
Steve Romero is the Manager of Baiada’s Beresfield and Cardiff feed mills.
Poultry Digest met both when they delivered insight to the critical aspects of delivering safe and appropriate feed diets to Baiada’s vertically integrated poultry enterprise at the recent EW seminar which we have covered in this issue of Poultry Digest.
With combined feed milling experience amounting to 70 years, the fascinating insight was delivered without reference to slides or even notes, yet it was a fabulously instructional effort.
Wanting to know more, Richard and Steve gave Poultry Digest some of their valuable time so we could get a more detailed understanding of the vital procedures and process that goes into Baiada’s poultry feed production operations.
We met Richard and Steve at the Baiada Cardiff mill, near Newcastle in NSW, on November 11.
Also in attendance was Dr Emma Bradbury, a relatively recent recruit to the Baiada nutrition team led by Katherine Balding (General Manager Technical, Nutrition and Feed milling).
Emma was a member of a fabulously talented team of young post grads working under the guidance of Aaron Cowieson and other senior members of Sydney University’s Poultry Science Research team based at the Sydney University Camden Campus.
Before launching into the details of the Baiada feed mills’ HACCP protocols, we discussed the many challenges that have arisen for the industry.
“Challenges presented by recent floods, labour shortages and COVID related factors, have all been recent causes for concern in the industry,” Steve said.
Rising raw materials costs were also mentioned whereby Emma and Richard stated that working with our procurement team is part of maintaining optimal cost feed formulations while sticking to nutritional and stringent food safety protocols.
“New materials are always being reviewed, but more importantly we take advantage of other key ingredients when available,” Richard explained.
Richard’s long experience in feed mill management means he could reflect on changes such as the progression of automation and digitally driven initiatives.
“Not least,” he pointed out, was the labour saving capacity of automation with the cautionary comment that “rigorous adherence to established protocols were still necessary.”
Before Steve Romero joined the Baiada feed mill management team, he gained engineering experience in the aviation industry, which he pointed out shared many critical aspects with feed mill management.
Certainly, if and when things go awry in either feed production or aviation technology, the consequences of error are too horrible to contemplate.
All Baiada sites are FeedSafe accredited, which means following strict protocol such as the Code of Good Manufacturing Practice and the Principles of HACCP (Hazards Analysis Critical Control Point system).
Both of these systems cover the wide range of process that are encompassed in feed manufacturing, from sourcing and purchasing raw materials all the way through to dispatching the final feed.
Understanding the areas within the manufacturing process that can pose a risk to food safety is crucial and managing these risks are all part of the HACCP process.
Areas such as feed mill hygiene is covered to validate rodent control measures and to monitor salmonella in higher risk materials such as canola meal and meat meal.
Asked by Poultry Digest if use of novel feed additives was a factor in heat treatment of feed, Richard explained “any feed additive that is sensitive, we add post pellet if it is a liquid”.
“This evaluation of ‘fit for purpose’ would be conducted by our nutritional technical team,” Richard said.
Within the feed mill, critical control points (CCP) are identified and control limits established. “Accuracy of scales and correct calibration of all parts of the process from raw materials to the finished product is vital,” Steve said.
“Accepted calibration levels used to be +/- 5%, so the need to be accurate was not there. That is no longer acceptable today,” Richard emphasised.
Monitoring of the CCPs within the feed mill is constant with any breaches needing to be investigated and corrective actions put in place.
“There must be some challenges in the creation of different diets for different production systems in current broiler and layer production?” we asked.
“No challenges, production scheduling has been instilled in mills forever as we have always protected high risk feeds, like breeder diets,” Richard replied.
Now with a better understanding of how Baiada approaches the vital task of keeping feed up to its wide range of poultry products, Poultry Digest dived down the ‘Rabbit Hole’ of feed mill history.
Today’s feed mills, supplying both human and livestock requirements, represent significant capital investment and are vital to maintaining production of protein to ever growing populations.
In Australia, 25 million people consume around 50 kg per person per annum and that figure is predicted to rise in the next few years and with that increase there is a need for expanded feed production.
The industry will continue to supply the market as immigration recommences and consumers driven by cost of living, the environment and health concerns continue to eat more chicken meat.
Back in 500 BC the human population had established cultivation of feed crops and the domestication of livestock such as pigs and poultry.
In the middle east and Mediterranean regions, population increase created a huge demand for both human food and their livestock’s feed.
Processing grain by hand was not a long-term option and water power was harnessed to drive the first horizontal disc feed milling.
Archaeologists have established that the earliest water powered feed mills were operating in Byzantium (modern Turkey near Istanbul) in 500BC.
Today Turkey, 2500 years down the track, has not only a vibrant and expanding chicken meat sector but also produces some state-of-the-art feed milling plant and equipment.
The feed mill is central to broiler chicken production and operating those facilities like Beresfield and Cardiff in a safe and efficient manner is vital to providing a major protein source to our growing population.