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The Benefits of Pelleting Feed and Related Diet Considerations

Close-up of large metal poultry feeder.

The benefits of pelleting feed have been an area of interest for decades; however, recent research suggests that the extent of the performance improvements may depend on other diet characteristics. With feed estimated to be around 70% of production costs for poultry and swine producers, the benefit-cost ratio is an important factor when determining what form the diet should take.

Pellet Quality

Pelleting can improve production performance, although research has found that this can depend on the quality of the pellet. Positive production effects can be limited if the pellet quality is poor and there is a large percentage of fines in the feed. In a broiler study,1 an improvement in feed intake, live weight gain, feed conversion rate (FCR) and carcass weight was observed as the percent of pellets in the feed increased. A model based on this research indicated a 0.4-point increase in FCR, a 10 g carcass-weight increase and a 4 g breast-weight improvement for every 10% increase in intact pellets in the feed.

Pellet and Nutrient Density Relationship

The extent of production improvements from pelleting may also depend on the diet formulation. Recent research suggests that the level of nutrient density may determine how beneficial pelleting really is. In two broiler studies,2,3 five diet nutrient density levels were compared in either mash or pellet form. As expected, broilers fed pelleted diets had better performance than mash-fed birds at all nutrient density levels. However, the pellet benefits were greater at the lowest nutrient density and positive performance responses to pelleting decreased as nutrient density increased. Therefore, the nutrient density of diets may be an important consideration during diet formulation to ensure that the extra expense of pelleting delivers the expected increase in performance.

Mitigating Mycotoxin Effects

Another potential benefit of pelleting feed is the reduction of negative performance effects observed when feed is contaminated with the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON). In two swine studies,4,5 pelleting DON-contaminated diets improved average daily gain and gain to feed (G:F), ameliorating the reduction in performance caused by DON-contaminated feed. The concentration of DON in the diet was not altered by pelleting, but the performance benefits of pelleting were able to mitigate the DON-related production losses. Numerically, the increase in daily gain due to pelleting was greater in the DON-contaminated feed than the control feed. It is not clear however, if negative effects from contamination by other mycotoxins could also be abated by pelleting, so using a natural mycotoxin control product is recommended. To identify if feed is contaminated with mycotoxins and at what concentration, BioInsights Mycotoxin Diagnostic Services, offered by Amlan International, can test feed on-site and provide an accurate quantitative result within 10 minutes.

Other Benefits of Pelleting

Pelleting can increase palatability by masking unpleasant ingredient tastes and reducing ingredient sorting. Production efficiencies also improve as less feed is wasted and time allocated to eating is reduced, which allows more energy to be dedicated to growth.

Pelleting feed has multiple logistic benefits including improving feed flow through bins and less space required for storage. Ingredient separation during storage and transport and dust production are also reduced — depending on the quality of the pellet. Low-quality pellets that have a large percentage of fines may still have these issues.

Pelleting feed has many potential advantages, as long as all components of the diet formulation are considered, pellet quality is maximized and the pellets, like all feed, are manufactured safely following recommended guidelines.


  1. Lilly K, Gehring C, Beaman K, Turk P, Sperow M, Moritz J. Examining the relationships between pellet quality, broiler performance, and bird sex. J Appl Poult Res. 2011;20:231–239.
  2. Abdollahia M, Zaefariana F, Ravindrana V, Selleb P. The interactive influence of dietary nutrient density and feed form on the performance of broiler chickens. Anim Feed Sci Technol. 2018;239:33–43.
  3. Hamungalu O, Zaefarian F, Abdollahi M, Ravindran V. Performance response of broilers to feeding pelleted diets is influenced by dietary nutrient density. Anim Feed Sci Technol. 2020;268:114613
  4. Frobose H, Fruge E, Tokach M, Hansen E, DeRouchey J, Dritz S, Goodband R, Nelssen J. The effects of deoxynivalenol-contaminated corn dried distillers grains with solubles in nursery pig diets and potential for mitigation by commercially available feed additives. J Anim Sci. 2015;93:1074–1088.
  5. Frobose H, Fruge E, Tokach M, Hansen E, DeRouchey J, Dritz S, Goodband R, Nelssen J. The influence of pelleting and supplementing sodium metabisulfite (Na2S2O5) on nursery pigs fed diets contaminated with deoxynivalenol. Anim Feed Sci Technol. 2015;210:152–164.

Safeguard Livestock Health and Productivity with On-Site Mycotoxin Diagnostics and Product Dosing Guide

Bio Insights Mycotoxin Diagnostics by Amlan International

Mycotoxins are a natural product of fungal metabolism. However, when they end up in livestock feed, they are of critical concern for producers worldwide because of their detrimental impact on health and productivity: they can reduce feed intake and efficiency, decrease weight gain, damage internal organs such as the liver and kidneys and increase mortality.1

Despite several mycotoxin binder products in the market, mycotoxins continue to be a problem; a 2013 global mycotoxin survey revealed that 81% of grain and feed samples analyzed contained at least one mycotoxin.2

Previously, the only way to determine if feed was contaminated with mycotoxins was to send samples to outside laboratories for analysis. With BioInsights Mycotoxin Diagnostic Services, producers can test feed ingredients on-site and accurately identify mycotoxins in minutes.  As a result, producers can eliminate the cost and delay of sending samples to outside laboratories for testing and optimally dose Amlan International’s biotoxin control product, Calibrin-Z.

Using its extensive mineral chemistry experience, expertise in animal science and state-of-the-art microbiology lab, coupled with a partnership with a diagnostic leader in the industry, Amlan International has developed this program to help its partners raise animals safely and efficiently by providing biological insights to prevent production losses.

Minimize production losses with timely mycotoxin diagnostic results

To bring producers the first diagnostic system for fast and accurate on-site mycotoxin detection, Amlan International partnered with Envirologix, the world’s most trusted name for quantitative GMO testing at the point of grain delivery. 

Using a standard PC computer platform, the Envirologix QuickScan II system works with mycotoxin test kits to provide rapid, accurate quantitative results. In under 10 minutes, the system extracts, incubates and identifies mycotoxins in feed. Producers can then use Amlan International’s dose calculator to determine the optimal dose of adsorbents, such as Calibrin®-Z, to protect their animals.

The dangers of multiple mycotoxins in poultry feed

In many cases, feed may be contaminated with multiple mycotoxins. Together, they can have a synergistic, or additive effect, meaning the negative effects of one mycotoxin are amplified by the interaction with another, making their combined effect greater than the sum of their individual effects. Producers are encouraged to consider the total toxin load when dosing mycotoxin adsorbents.


  1. Filazi A, Yurdakok-Dikmen B, Kuzukiran O, Sireli UT. Mycotoxins in Poultry 2017; DOI: 10.5772/66302. Available at Accessed August 6, 2020.
  2. Murugesan GR, Ledoux DR, Naehrer K, et al. Prevalence and effects of mycotoxins on poultry health and performance, and recent development in mycotoxin counteracting strategies. Poult Sci 2015;94(6):1298-1315.