Steam Feed Conditioners
The importance of steam conditioning was quantified in an experiment comparing dry pelleting with pelleting using steam conditioning [Skoch et al (1981)]. The results of this study indicated that steam conditioning improved pellet durability and production rates and decreased the amount of fines generated and energy consumption. From this, it was concluded that steam acted as a lubricant to reduce friction during pelleting.
Mash entering the conditioner may be comprised of a wide variety of ingredients that make up the diet formulation. The nutritional, as well as physical properties of this mash have an effect on conditioning and eventual pellet quality. Pellet quality is proportionally dependent on the following factors: 40% diet formulation, 20% particle size, 20% conditioning, 15% die specifications, and 5% cooling and drying. If this is correct, 60% of pellet quality is determined before the mash enters the conditioner. This increases to 80% after conditioning, but before mash has even entered the die chamber of a pellet mill.
Conditioning improves compressibility and binding properties of feed mixtures by using: Heat - Moisture - Time. It is a very important process which needs to be taken before the pelleting process, and most feed machinery manufacturers will have pellet mills fitted with 1-3 conditioners nowadays. Conditioning plays an even more important part in the production of shrimp and aquafeeds as it provides the feed with better water stability which is an essential part to these types of feeds.