Skip to content

New appeal for feather meal

Redwood Falls, Minn. – Feathers and glycerin – byproducts of livestock rendering and biofuel productions – may be an ideal match for cattle diets.

FUMPA Biofuels, a division of Farmers Union Marketing and Processing Association, has patented a process for blending feather meal and glycerin into an ingredient for cattle feed rations. AURI’s coproduct utilization lab in Waseca designed a method for making pellets from the mixture.

FUMPA will use glycerin from its soon-to-be operational biodiesel production facility in Redwood Falls – and hydrolyzed feather meal from another FUMPA division in Redwood Falls: Central Bi-Products rendering plant.

“We’ll be taking two byproduct streams and making them both more valuable,” says Chuck Neece, FUMPA Biofuels research and development director.

Hydrolyzed feather meal has relatively low density, so shipping it long distances as a feed product is not economical. But blended with glycerin in pellet form, the meal becomes available for new market. Glycerin, chemically classified as an alcohol, is a byproduct of the trans-esterification process used to make biodiesel and is often found in soap and beauty products.

“Adding glycerin increases the energy value and density of the product,” says Al Doering, AURI technical services specialist, “which makes which makes it more economical to transport … and an attractive ingredient for livestock feed.”

The blending “improves the overall nutritional profile of the product,” Neece says. “It mixes well with other ingredients, is easy to use and flows easily.”

The meal will be distributed to livestock feed manufacturers and used primarily for beef and dairy rations.

While feed companies are interested, Food and Drug Administration rules are slowing the blended ingredient’s move to commercialization.

However, Neece expects feather meal pellets will receive a warm reception. Cattle feed “is a very nice market for this product,” Neece says. “It could even assist (feed) processors in reaching export markets.”