Let’s Not Quibble over Kibble

A special guest peeve from Travis Golladay of Ohio Pet Foods expressing his (our shared) frustration over an emphasis on kibble appearance rather than kibble quality.  


Over the years, Ohio Pet Foods has received many questions concerning the variation in our kibble size and shape.  Our initial reaction is why does kibble have to be uniform?  It is not a reflection of food quality.  Far more important, and our focus, are starch conversion rates.

There is a common misconception that an extruder is a “cookie cutter” or a stamp.  In reality, an extruder is a pressure vessel that cooks a constant flow of “dry mash” as it runs through it.  At the end of that cooking process, the material is forced through a die plate where it gets is size and shape.  The variation in pressure between the extruder (high pressure) and the air (low pressure) results in the expansion of the kibble once it is cut as it exits the extruder.

During the extrusion process, there are many variables which can result in kibble size variation:

  • The type of extruder (our extruder at OPF is not as advanced as some others)
  • Die size and the number of dies in the die plate (this can affect the amount of friction inside the extruder barrel)
  • Extruder motor load (power surges can affect the speed at which we extrude)
  • Ingredient variation (this can affect the amount of expansion coming out of the die plate)
  • Environmental conditions (warm weather vs cold weather; humidity, etc.)

OPF has never claimed that our kibble size would be the same in each production run.  In fact, we have claimed the opposite: there will most certainly be a small variation in kibble size.  In terms of nutrition, gelatinization of the carbohydrates (starch conversion rates) is much more important than kibble size and shape.  Our goal at Ohio Pet Foods is to create the most nutritious foods we can from any given formula.  This is why we so value our extruder.  While it may not produce uniform kibble in terms of size and shape, it does allow us to offer you the most nutritious kibble possible.

At Ohio Pet Foods, our focus is on the unseen factors that result in the best quality foods for dogs and cats.  Best quality ingredients, high starch conversion rates, slow cooking, and low temperature cooking and drying temperatures.  What is unseen has the greatest impact on food quality.

Posted in Pet Peeves.