Table of Contents

1. Overview

The Animal Feeds Manufacturing Association (AFMA) website is a comprehensive source of information on this industry. Visit
  • The animal feeds industry is divided into the formal feed industry (members of AFMA) and the other which includes feedlots, smaller feed mills and home mixers.
  • Sixty different products, mainly of agricultural origin, are used to make balanced feed for poultry, cattle, sheep and other animals. The animal feed market has grown continuously for the past two decades in South Africa and abroad. It is clearly a vital part of the South African farmer’s life.
  • The growth of the animal feed industry in the coming couple of years is entirely dependent on the growth in the animal product market determined by consumer spending, particularly the poultry, beef, sheep and dairy industries which are big users of animal feed in the animal production value chain. By way of example, the importing of poultry products into the country does not only put the local poultry industry under pressure but also the animal feeds one. The imports of 2016 “effectively replaced 1.5 million tons of broiler feed … the equivalent of 15 medium sized feed mills which could have been locally manufactured” (AFMA, 2017).
  • Growth in the animal feed industry is positive news for grain producers.


2. The feed milling process

Raw material

Feed is made up of a number of raw materials that is all combined in different ratio’s to form a perfect balance of all the nutrients, minerals and vitamins. The bulk of the feed is:

  • maize
  • soya oilcake
  • sunflower
  • wheat bran

A number of other raw materials are also included e.g.:

  • limestone
  • molasses
  • lysine
  • fishmeal (not all feed)
  • vitamins
  • minerals

The bulk raw materials are stored in the silos and the lower volume dense materials is in flat storage on the mill floor.


The grains are transported from the silos to grinders in the mill where it is grinded to a suitable coarseness depending on the type of feed manufactured. Thereafter the other raw materials that don’t need grinding are included as well as the prescribed premixes of vitamins, minerals and medication.


The mixing process is important in the feed manufacturing process because if the feed is not mixed thoroughly, the concentrated minerals and vitamins will not be evenly distributed. Taking into account the low inclusion of about 2.5kg of premix in 1000kg of feed, thorough mixing is extremely important. During the mixing process, all the liquids like oil are also included.


In the incorporator the mash feed is incorporated with steam to increase the heat and moisture of the feed, which is crucial in the pelleting process. The addition of the steam helps with the binding of the particles to form a pellet when pressed.

Pellet press

The mixed raw material, vitamins and minerals now goes through the pellet press where it is forced through a small opening (usually between 3.2 and 4.8mm) to form a pellet. The temperature of the feed is about 80°C on the other side of the pellet press.


The pellet is still soft and too warm to store as it is post pelleting and the temperature need to be brought down. This is done in the cooler and the temperature is decreased drastically to make the pellet hard and durable. The pelleted feed goes through a shaker to get rid of unwanted fines and it is now ready to be bagged or loaded in a bulk storage bin.

Source: Johan Conradie at Epol/RCL Foods

Farmers sell most of their grains via SAFEX but some also negotiate with feed mills for pre-harvest contracts.

There is an established gristing principle whereby the farmer takes maize to feedmills. It is a way for him to save money because he only pays for the milling, mixing and other raw materials. Farmers can purchase commercial concentrates from feed suppliers, too, to mix with maize which they themselves have milled.