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Feed for Thought

When cross-contamination causes management to consider water

November 28, 2012

For feed manufacturers, producing a medicated feed in its plant might cause cross contamination. This is a very important issue that keeps feed manufacturing under the close eye of regulators and inspectors all over the world (and definitely costs some quality managers some sleep).

Cleaning feed circuits is not easy. Medicine molecules quite often are electrostatic and can remain attached to a circuit for a long time. As a result, the best way to avoid cross contamination is to avoid those molecules.

This has fed a trend of precautionary action, where manufacturers avoid entrance of any “dangerous” products – it might be bacteria coming from soybeans, rapeseed, sunflower meal, GMO event (I speak there more for European feed manufacturers regarding the EU regulation) or antibiotics. As a result, feed manufacturers tend to say no more and more often to vet demands for medicated feed unless a dedicated plant stands nearby.

So the risk of cross contamination drives farmers to drinking water for the delivery of vaccine, vitamins and antibiotics for the health of the animals on their lot. And water becomes a substitute for feed. In this pattern, quite logically, water regains its place as the first staple food for human and animals. And the feed manufacturer technician has an opportunity to enlarge his counsel to the farmer.

It’s not always easy for a farmer to calculate dosage range or percentage, make an informed decision about the kind of pump to buy or price maintenance pieces.

A friend of mine was very disappointed about the status of pigs in a farm even after health treatment. The farmer began to distribute medicine through drinking water, but when opening the water tank he nearly fainted; the smell was horrible and the surface was sticky. My friend was quite happy to be helpful and was quick in his diagnosis. After going through the water and pumping system, the correction seemed easy. The pH levels were higher than 7.8 and the water hardness was quite high in that part of the country. So, chlorine disinfection of drinking water was inefficient. Biofilm had been able to grow quite thick. And, above that, calcium ion tends to make insoluble complexes with active molecules.

But getting rid of biofilm and bacterias was not so easy in this case and medicated feed had to be provided in between.

That’s when I thought, “Well, being a feed manufacturer isn’t just about selling feed, is it?” While helping with a problem, cross contamination, the answer turned out to be administering soluble products through drinking water. In the end it became a way to gain the loyalty of farmers and offer a wider range of services.

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