The animal feed industry is estimated around $250 billion Dollars and the beginning of its industrial scale production is tracked back to the late 19th century. 70 to 80 percent of the cost in producing animals is the feed cost. Reaching an optimal balance of nutrition to enable fastest, cheapest growth for animals at lowest cost is very desirable.
Animal feed is the grain and cereal portion of plants that are often processed into pellets to feed swine, fish, poultry, and livestock. Animal forage is various plants that animals are fed while grazing. Grass can be processed into hay after mowing and drying. Quality control of both feed and forage is incredibly challenging for many reasons. Large variability can exist among the same shipment and even in the same batch. The price of these products is directly correlated to their nutritional value, which is especially important for cows that produce milk. Feed formulations are made with different combinations of feed, forage, or a mixture of both. Traditional methods for monitoring parameters of interest include HPLC, GC, and wet chemistry. These methods are labor intensive, time-consuming, ill-suited for large scale testing, can only measure one parameter at a time, and can require the use of expensive solvents and reagents.
FT-NIR spectroscopic analysis is fast, requires no sample preparation, and can analyze multiple parameters with a single measurement.