Separate the Wheat from the Chaff: Laser Diffraction for Animal Feed Analysis

In contrast to public perception, animal feed is a very complex product. The particle size significantly influences the feed behavior, nutrient uptake and digestibility. Since feed is one of the most costly factors in livestock farming, it is important to match the particle size with respect to the nutrient requirements of animals and optimize particle size and distribution. In this application report we demonstrate how to use laser diffraction to determine the particle size distribution of different feed samples.


Animal feed with the right particle size in poultry and pig feeding is a major challenge of modern processing in feed factories. The goal is to support intestinal health while optimizing the digestibility of nutrients and energy. In the successful production of animal feed with coarse particles, however, there is a risk of segregation and subsequent comminution due to abrasion, leading to poor pellet quality with a high amount of fines.

Particle size is not only important for manufacturing processes, but also for nutrient uptake and digestion of the feed. Whole grains will not be digested. To benefit most from the nutrient content, the digestive enzymes need to reach the single cells of the grains. That means the finer the feed is ground, the better the nutrient uptake. However, studies have also shown that finely ground feed overstresses the animals’ digestive tract and nutrient uptake might decrease with smaller particle sizes.

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