Livestock feed is a tightly regulated industry. An animal's diet dictates its health. When cattle and pigs consume contaminants or other unapproved ingredients, they could become sick or die. This is a waste of business resources and a danger to populations who eat the meat.
This is why global organizations and local governments create regulations for what businesses can feed livestock. These rules are vital, but they are not set in stone. Government and industry leaders must respond to improved technology and needs presented by modern markets. A couple of changes to existing guidelines provide both restrictions and opportunities for feed manufacturers with effective data collection solutions.
Removing Antibiotics from Cattle Feed
There is a lot of buzz nowadays about the pros and cons of antibiotics. PBS shared details about the debate over whether or not using antibiotics in animal feed to keep livestock healthy is worth the possible risk to consumers. The basic argument is that certain farms may overuse supplements designed to fight off disease and increase weight, and create drug resistant bacteria.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has responded to consumer concern by placing a limit on what antibiotics calf and steer feed manufacturers can use and when, according to Kansas State University's Beef Cattle Institute. Companies may include ionophores, bambermycins, bacitracin and tiamulin, but they must have a veterinary prescription if they want to use anything stronger. These new rules will go into effect December 2016.
These regulations may call for a change to ingredient formulations, manufacturing processes and feeding regimes, as all water-based antibiotics will require a prescription. Many companies already restrict their antibiotic use to appeal to health-conscious customers, but this could be a big changeover for other production plants.
Loosening Restrictions on Pig Feed
Changes to regulations don't always create restrictions. The Pig Site reported an adjustment to Canadian pig feed requirements will give companies more freedom in creating their feed formulations.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency may remove Table 4 of the National Feed Act. Pork feed manufacturers petition regulators to make the change because the existing laws don't account for modern production techniques. If Table 4 is eliminated, companies will no longer have to follow current strict regulations for maximum and minimum levels of certain additives. Instead, businesses will just have limits on specific compounds.
Since new feed formulations can use additives to provide proper nutrition without traditional ingredients, pork feed producers say the limits on additive levels no longer apply and should be removed from official regulations. Eliminating unnecessary supplies and manufacturing steps should improve business efficiency and lead to a more eco-friendly final product.
Data Collection for Flexible Manufacturing
Whether a company needs to adjust manufacturing to stay in compliance with new laws or take advantage of changing regulations, it should have a data collection solution to implement and monitor production alterations.
When productions lines and warehouse management procedures operate with real-time data collection systems, they can see exactly how products are manufactured. These records are vital for decision-makers looking for ways to implement changes with the least amount of disruption. Once companies introduce innovative production procedures or remove problematic ingredients, comparing previous productions times and employees schedule to new data helps companies adjust operations to reduce risk and save resources.
Mobile data collection solutions provide answers and communication platforms for every level of a company operating out of numerous facilities. An RFgen customer case study examined how a feed manufacturer, Provimi, introduced mobile data collection devices into 80 factories situated in 30 countries. After proper implementation, the business gained visibility of each production plant and an ability to launch company wide changes as quickly as possible.