Making Feed Pellets from Oil Palm Frond
Oil palm fronds are abundantly available in oil palm plantations. The rapid development of the palm oil industry in the Southeastern since the 1990s has caused an increasing output of oil palm fronds, which are produced from the harvesting of oil palm fruit bunches, both from pruning management practices and from replanting operations.
Previously the oil palm fronds are abundant as waste materials left rotting between the rows of palm trees, mainly for soil conservation, erosion control, and ultimately for the long-term benefit of nutrient recycling. However, today oil palm fronds offer tremendous potential to increase the growth of local livestock industries, as well as for the export market.
Nutritional Attributes of Oil Palm Fronds
Oil palm frond contains a high amount of fiber. The NDF (Neutral Detergent Fiber) content ranges from 63% to 80%, and ADF (Acid Detergent Fiber) content is in the 45-57% range. Lignin content is also high with reported values ranging from 12% to 37%. However, oil palm fronds are rather poor in protein and fat. The fat is relatively high in unsaturated fatty acids.
The leaflet has a better nutritive value than the whole frond, as it contains more protein, more fat, and less fiber. However, they contain more silica. The ratio between leaflet and petiole decreases with the age of the tree (from 0.7 for a six-year-old tree to 0.3 for a 21-year-old tree), which probably means that the fronds of younger trees have a higher nutritional value.
Processing Oil Palm Frond into Animal Feed Pellets
By chopping, drying, and pelletizing, oil palm fronds have been successfully transformed into an attractive source of animal feed. Oil palm fronds can be used either alone or combine with other ingredients, such as palm kernel cake and palm oil mill effluent. Before processing into pellets, the fronds are chipped into smaller pieces of 10-20 mm, using a feed hammer mill, and then are dried by rotary drum dryer. The dried chipped oil palm fronds are then introduced into feed pellet mill to produce pellets. The products are specifically formulated to meet the nutrient requirements of various classes of ruminant livestock. These feed pellets are convenient for storage and transportation.
The feed pellets are targeted mainly at ruminant animals and other species such as horses, deer, and ostriches. Large-scale utilization of oil palm fronds as animal feed involves various commercial production segments, which include raw materials handling and processing, plant capacity and feasibility, and economical processing methods for the production of marketable products. Major cost components in the production of oil palm frond pellets are collection, drying, and packaging. Detailed information in the article (Complete Animal Feed Pellet Plant) is available for reference
Benefits of Oil Palm Fronds Pellets
1. The product significantly contributes to the development of the local livestock industry by ensuring a stable supply of feeds throughout the year. The development of pellets based on oil palm fronds can be used as complete or balanced diets for fattening beef cattle, dairy cattle, goats, sheep, deer, and ostriches.
2. The formula for the feed pellets is specially prepared based on the animal’s nutritional needs, which include protein, fiber, fat, and minerals, to promote good health, fast breeding, and good health for the ruminant animals.
3. The blended pellets are specially formulated to enhance the physiological and physical development of the ruminant animal. It is free from toxic substances, heavy metals, and other harmful elements.
4. Breeders need not worry about the product expiry date because the pellets made from 100 percent fresh fronds can last up to two years but the blended pellets only lasts up to three months.
Economic and Commercial Impact
The technology development has significantly increased the utilization of oil palm fronds and other by-products from oil palm industries. The use of oil palm fronds as the main fiber source in ruminant rations has markedly reduced feeding costs between 20-30%.
The products have export potential, particularly to the Middle East, Taiwan, and Europe apart from Japan, Korea, and China. Complete pellet feeds will offer bigger commercialization opportunities and competitiveness in the international feed markets.