The latest estimate (2017-18) of annual feed use in Australia is 13.58 million tonnes (Source JCS Solutions). This volume excludes pasture grazing, hay and silage and does not account for spikes in feed usage in times of drought feeding.
Livestock feed is supplied from:
Commercial feed mills operated by specialist stock feed manufacturers
Integrated poultry and pig livestock producers
Beef feedlots mixing feeds on-site
On-farm production either in a home-mix mill or simple mixing operations.
The breakdown of feed use by livestock sector is presented in this chart.
Total feed use is greatly influenced by seasonal conditions affecting pasture growth, costs of grain and the economics of producing meat, milk and eggs.
To gain a perspective on the size of the Australian livestock feeding industry, Australia’s stock feed use at 13.0 million tonnes can be compared against almost one billion tonnes manufactured globally. The USA, China Europe and Brazil are the largest feed manufacturers.
SFMCA members manufacture over 5.5 million tonnes of feed annually with this representing around 90% of commercial feed sold in Australia.
Importance to Livestock Industries
Feed manufacturers are an essential component in adding value to the production and supply of Australia’s raw materials for conversion into stock feed which commercial livestock owners use to produce higher value meat, milk, eggs and wool. The stock feed industry also provides hobby farmers, backyard and leisure livestock owners with high quality and reliable feeds for their animals.
The Australian stockfeed market is the largest user of the Australian grain crop.
Commercial Poultry Industry
Over 1,150,000 tonnes of chicken meat is produced annually within Australia (Source ABS 2015/16), this is almost entirely consumed within the Australian domestic market. The chicken meat industry has been growing by 4.5% annually over the last 20 years and has become the most commonly consumed meat in Australia.
There are almost 17.8 million laying hens in Australia (Source AECL 2014/15). Eggs are produced from cage, barn and free range laying farms, with eggs being predominantly supplied to the Australian domestic market. Egg consumption has been growing, reaching 210 eggs per person per year.
Australia produced 378,000 tonnes of pig meat in 2015/16 (Source ABS), most of which is consumed locally as fresh pork. The Australian pig industry competes with pig meat imports from Canada, Denmark and the USA. The Australian iondustry has been growing at 2% over the last eight year period.
Australian milk production was 9,500 million litres in 2015/16, and Australia is a significant exporter of dairy products (Source Dairy Australia). There are 1.6 million dairy cows in Australia and concentrate feeding has increased to 1,800kg/cow/300 day lactation. Dairy farms have been increasing in the number of cows in milk, this now exceeding 300 cows per farm.
The Australian beef herd was 27.4 million in June 2015 (Source MLA). Australia exports nearly 65% of total beef production to over 100 countries. Australia is the largest beef exporter in the world. (Source MLA)
Australia has a large beef feedlot sector with a high reliance upon grain feeding for export and domestic markets. In 201/16, 2.8 million grain-fed cattle were marketed - 35% of all adult cattle slaughtered.
The national sheep and lamb flock is 70.9 million heAD head (Source MLA June 2015). Australia is the largest exporter of sheep meats in thew world. There has been in increasing number of lambs finished on grain to provide more consistent supplies of lamb meat.
The contribution of the horse industry to the Australian economy has been estimated to be over $6.2 billion a year (Source RIRDC). While racing and associated activities (breeding and gambling) contribute a little over half, horse businesses, equestrian and breed events and the maintenance of horses are very large industries in themselves.
Australia has a growing aquaculture industry, with species being farmed including salmon, trout, prawns, barramundi and blue fin tuna. The manufacture of aquafeeds requires high levels of technical knowledge and manufacturing technology.
Stock feed manufacturers play an essential role in converting basic raw material ingredients into compound finished feed for animals. The key components within this conversion can be viewed as:
Raw Material Ingredient Sourcing
The main raw material ingredients used in the manufacture of compound animal feeds include cereal grains, legume grains, vegetable protein meals, animal protein meals, cereal milling co-products, minerals and vitamins. Feed additives may be included for specific purposes.
Feed manufacturers purchase raw material ingredients which comply with minimum quality standards, with each raw material being subject to inspection and testing when received at a milling site.
The majority of raw material ingredients are sourced from Australian farmers and supply companies.
Feed additives are controlled through the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), with only registered products approved for use by stockfeed manufacturers. Contrary to a common public belief, no hormones are used in any stockfeed manufactured within Australia, and there are no hormones registered for inclusion in animal feeds in Australia.
Feed manufacturers employ animal nutritionists who are scientifically qualified in animal nutrition. The nutritionist uses computer programs to formulate feed rations to meet the nutrient requirements for each class of livestock.
The significant progress in animal performance has been achieved in part due to the greater nutritional knowledge gained through research in defining the nutrient requirements for modern day genetic stock.
Feed Milling and Manufacturing
The conversion of raw material ingredients into feed has a number of steps.
Grain Milling - roller mill or hammer mill processing
Batching - weighing of raw material ingredients according to formulated recipes for each batch of feed
Mixing - to provide a consistent compound mix of ingredients
Following mixing, feed can be supplied as a mash (also known as meal) for feeding to particular livestock.
Feed can also be further processed into pellets. This process uses steam to condition the meal. The hot conditioned meal is then pressed through a die to form pellets. The pellets are then cooled rapidly to make them durable.
The modern feedmill is a highly automated and computer controlled manufacturing plant. Feed manufacturers are committed to the industry through their high capital investment in plant and equipment, this being required to ensure they can provide high quality feeds at efficient manufacturing rates.
The manufactured feed products are supplied either in bulk, by delivery trucks to larger scale livestock producers, or in bags to smaller scale producers and livestock owners. Throughout the feed manufacturing process, quality assurance steps require the products to be sampled and tested to ensure finished products meet minimum quality standards.
Stock feed manufacturers provide technical support to livestock producers to aid in increasing livestock performance. Feeds being marketed are supported by research based feeding recommendations.