The Wenger Nutrition and Quality Laboratory
“The Nutrition and Quality Laboratory at The Wenger Group is the key component of our commitment to nutrient channel management in our mission to be the ‘nutrient company.’ Our laboratory is capable of testing ingredients and feed for two fundamental sets of parameters—the nutrients and the quality. Testing for nutrients ensures the ingredient is the right profile and quantity of nutrients, while testing for quality ensures the same nutrients are available to livestock in the proportions offered, which is the primary purpose of feed, and our Lab is adequately equipped with state-of-the-art equipment,” says Dr. Kasula, Vice President and Chief Nutrition Officer.
Ingredient and Feed Testing
With lower costs and shorter turn-around time, the Nutrition and Quality Laboratory is able to test a large number of ingredient and feed samples to minimize variance of composition, which helps in formulating precision rations. You avoid costly over-formulation or potentially harmful under-formulation of nutrients. Analyses are performed with near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR). This technology is especially useful for those who use concentrate programs.
Forage testing, a key benefit for our dairy customers, is available through our Forage Testing Unit of the laboratory. This provides the nutritional value of pasture, hay, or silage. It is important to know the nutritional value of your inputs to help ensure an efficient feed ration and mineral supplementation program for optimal milk and milk component production.
In its commitment to serving the animal nutrition segment as a ‘Nutrient Company’, Wenger Feeds Nutrition & Quality Control Laboratory is equipped with Bomb Calorimeter, to analyze the gross (total) energy as a nutrient. Calorimetry (Bomb Calorimeter) is the most accurate method of assessing the energy value of an animal feed ingredient or finished feed. This unique capability of the Wenger Lab differentiates it from rest in the segment.
Energy is one of the key and most expensive nutrient in animal nutrition that has direct and significant impact on the performance and cost effectiveness of a nutrition program. In general practice, the gross energy and its derivatives (Digestible Energy, Metabolizable Energy, etc) are calculated values per scientifically published equations, since calorimetry (Bomb Calorimeter) is not a regular equipment at typical nutrition laboratories in the industry. This precision assay of energy helps accurate delivery of energy as a nutrient and optimizing the nutrient cost, in other words, feed cost, relative to a calculated cost.
Nutrient Testing Capabilities
Proximate analysis gives us the big picture of the major components that make up our feed. We can determine how much water, protein, fat, fiber, and ash is in our finished feed. Together, these components comprise 90 to 95% of the feed by weight, and our nutritionists use these tests analyses when creating feed formulas.
Water is the most important nutrient as it influences the nutritional and storage quality of feed. It needs to be in the right amount as too much water may lead to feed spoilage but too little can be detrimental to nutrient availability to the livestock. We test for moisture by drying the sample in an oven and weighing the loss. To do this well, we need a scale that is precise, and our scales are accurate and frequently calibrated to comply with Wenger System and ISO Quality standard (ISO 9001) requirements. In addition, we capture the data directly into a computer reducing any possibility of an input error.
All protein contains nitrogen, and by testing a feed or ingredient for nitrogen, we can calculate how much protein is in the feed. This methodology produces a measurement of crude protein, and the industry has been using this test for about 140 years. Old methods require harsh chemicals like sulfuric acid, and while these tests are effective, they are also time consuming and dangerous. Modern methods use oxygen and heat to burn the sample and detect the nitrogen liberated gas, which is much more environmentally safe as well as being cost effective and efficient.
Our equipment can run up to 64 samples at a time and generates a new protein result every three minutes. Protein is important as every function in an animal’s body maintenance and production requires protein. Amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins, and their requirement varies by the species. At The Wenger Group, the rations are formulated to balance species-specific amino acids (not total protein), and our advanced equipment helps us assay for these in-house.
Fats, one of the three main macronutrient groups in a diet, along with carbohydrates and proteins, are the major and dense source of food energy for many animals. They play important structural and metabolic functions. The fat content needs to be balanced—too little and the animal will be short on energy, too much and the animal could reject the feed or not grow as expected.
While fats and oils do not dissolve in water, they do dissolve in solvents like ether or hexane. To test for fat, we dissolve it in a solvent, evaporate the solvent, and then weigh the collected fat. These solvents require special care as they are hazardous and polluting to the environment. Our advanced equipment instrument contains the solvents in a closed vessel and recovers about 90% of them in a separate container for reuse thereby making this method safe, effective, and environmentally sound.
Fiber comes from the cell walls of plants and seeds, and some parts of plants have more fiber (seed coats) than others (the center of the seed). We test for fiber by chemically digesting all the non-fiber components in the feed or ingredient and weighing what is left. This method was previously done by hand using beakers and filter funnels, which is a time-consuming process. Our advanced equipment can test up to 12 samples automatically. We can test for Crude Fiber (CF) and its constituent components, Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF), and Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF).
We keep an eye on fiber as it is not easily digested by most simple stomached animals, where they pass it on to hind gut to only benefit the harmful microorganisms. However, livestock need some fiber for digestive health, but if they receive too much, it tends to impede the animal’s ability to absorb nutrients such as minerals. Knowing the Crude Fiber (CF), Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF) and Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF) of our ingredients, nutritionists can develop feeds with the right amount of fiber while maintaining the gut health of the animal.
Ash is the measure of the mineral component of an ingredient or feed. Ash is the portion that does not combust. Minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium, etc., are key to skeletal structure, production, and various metabolic processes. Ash tests for all the minerals in the feed. These may include salt, calcium carbonate, and phosphate. We test for it by burning the sample at (600 degrees C or 1100 degrees F) and weighing what does not burn. While the components that make up ash may be important nutrients like minerals, it helps identify potential contaminants or adulterants or empty fillers like sand and dirt that provide no nutritional value.
Vitamins are critical to the health of our animals. The time and cost of vitamin analysis has made monitoring this prohibitive. The LC-MS/MS is a game changer in this space. Mass Spectrometers can detect organic molecules based on their mass and the mass of their breakdown products. It is able to detect very precisely the amount of that specific molecule in a complicated mixture like feed. In addition, our lab is in the process of developing methods for assay of vitamins, which will be available soon.
Quality Control Capabilities
Our Quality Control capabilities include testing the ingredients, finished feed, and processing conditions for delivery of designed physical form and nutrient aspects of feed. This includes a host of physical, chemical, physio-dynamic, microbiological, toxicological, and process control parameters as applicable that affect the ingredient’s suitability to be included in our feed. We do this to ensure your animals receive the right nutrients. Our standard Ingredient Approval Process, Supplier Approval Process, and Supplier Monitoring Process ensure the quality and regulatory compliance of all our suppliers and their products. Our quality management system includes processes that include controls for controlled and regulated ingredients such as medications, lot controls for shelf life alerts, sequencing and flushing for feeds.
We test actual ingredients and update our ingredient specifications regularly with the current nutrient values. This is important as our feed is manufactured with natural and processed ingredients that vary from factors such as crop cycle location and season. By closely monitoring our ingredient quality, we can tailor our diets to these changes, reducing nutrient variation, and increasing your confidence.
Good Water Quality Improves Health & Performance
The Nutrition and Quality Laboratory offers an array of water tests including hardness, pH, iron, nitrates, sulfates, E.coli, and total coliform. If you are interested in using our water testing services, sterile water collection bottles are provided and a specific sample gathering protocol must be followed. You can see our water sampling protocol on this page.
Mycotoxins are toxic chemical substances that are produced by certain molds found in soil. Agricultural crops may be infected by the molds before, during, and after harvest if they find favorable temperature, moisture, and nutrients. Mycotoxins, when consumed by animals or humans, can produce harmful effects that vary by species, amounts, and length of time consumed.
The Wenger Group has a robust Mycotoxin Risk Management program implemented across its mill network. Testing for select mycotoxins is performed at the point of receipt for grains using diagnostic strips and a comprehensive one in the laboratory that includes aflatoxins, ochratoxins, T2, DON (vomitoxin), fumonisins, and zearalenones.
With our new LC-MS/MS (Liquid Chromatography – Tandem Mass spectroscopy) method we can test for a number of mycotoxins at the same time in any feed, forage, grain, or ingredient.
Feed & Ingredient Proximate
Proximate (moisture, protein, crude fat, and crude fiber)
Crude Protein (CP)
Crude Fat/Ether Extract (EE)
Crude Fiber (CF)
Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF)
Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF)
Protein Quality Tests
Macro and Trace Mineral Analysis
Heavy Metal Analysis
Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrophotometer LC-MS/MS
T-2 /HT-2 Toxin
Water Quality Testing
Total Coliforms and E. Coli
Minerals (Ca, Mg, Na, K, Fe, S, Mn, Zn, Ag, Ar, Cd, Hg, Ni, Pb, Se, V)
Sieve Analysis (grind size)
Yeast and Mold Count
Feed Nutrient Tracking
GMO (Corn and Soybeans)
Water Sampling Made Easy
Use a sterile container provided by Wenger Feeds. Complete all the label information. Before running any water, take a clean cloth or paper towel and wipe the inside of the faucet to remove any residue build up. Take a match or lighter and heat the inside of the faucet to kill any surface bacteria that may be living there. Do this for at least 15 seconds. Select a frequently used cold-water faucet and allow the water to run for 3-5 minutes for municipal water and 5-7 minutes for well water. With the water still running, remove container top and fill to the EPA fill line. Close the container. Do not remove the lids from the water container before you are actually ready to fill them. Samples must be kept cold (less than 50 degrees F but not frozen and received within 24 hours) with ice packs and out of direct sunlight. Samples are accepted Monday-Thursday by noon. Remember to return the samples directly. If you can’t return them immediately, keep them cool with ice packs and ship them overnight. Mail to: ATTN: Laboratory, Wenger Feeds, LLC. 101 West Harrisburg Ave. P.O. Box 26 Rheems, PA 17570