Size reduction in feed technology and methods for determining, expressing and predicting particle size: A review

F. Lyu, M. Thomas, W.H. Hendriks, A.F.B. van der Poel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Particle size of diets or ingredients plays an important role in pig growth and gut health. The way the size of particles is measured and expressed, however, is limited in explaining pig growth performance differences. This review explores new possibilities to determine, express and predict particle size. Different grinding methods, including the use of roller mills, hammer mills, multicracker and multi-stage grinding were reviewed. Roller milling tends to produce a more uniform particle size distribution (PSD) and consumes less energy, whilst hammer mills have a greater grinding capacity and a higher reduction ratio compared to roller mill. The multicracker system, a more recently developed technology, can be considered cost-effective and ensures grinding capacity. Since the effects of different grinding methods vary, multi-stage grinding, combining different grinding methods, might be a solution to obtain a defined PSD. Particle size determination techniques, including dry/wet sieving, laser diffraction, microscopy, and static/dynamic image analysis are described and compared. It is concluded that more characteristics of particles (e.g. shape, volume or surface area) should be investigated. Besides geometric mean diameter (GMD), particle size can also be expressed with parameters such as D50, D4,3 and span of PSD. Equivalent particle size (EPS) is introduced as a mean of describing the size of particles related to a functional trait of the particles. A meta-analysis was performed by collecting particle size and pig performance data from scientific studies examining the effect of recalculated EPS on pig performance (feed conversion ratio, FCR). Regression/linear modelling shows that recalculated EPS was not better than GMD in explaining pig performance differences due to the high variation among studies. Different expressions of PSD may result in different conclusions. An introduction of describing the breaking behavior of diet ingredients via mathematical models is provided. The development in breakage functions of wheat in roller milling in food preparations indicates that breakage functions are applicable in predicting the output PSD. Functions may also be extended to diet ingredients to be ground in animal feed manufacture. In feed manufacturing diagrams, particle size reduction for downstream processes (e.g. pelleting, extruding, expander processing) should be taken into account when the relationship between pig performance and particle size of diets is investigated. In conclusion, the determination, expression and prediction of particle size can be a new direction for controlling the grinding process in the feed mill to better explain its relationship with pig performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114347
JournalAnimal Feed Science and Technology
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Breakage function
  • Particle size
  • Pelleting
  • Pig feed
  • Size reduction


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