Apple pomace (AP) is the main by-product of apple juice production. Large amounts of this material disposed into landfills can cause serious environmental problems. One of the solutions is to utilise AP as animal feed. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of dried AP inclusion into model mixtures made from conventional feedstuffs on pellet quality and pellet press performance. Three model mixtures, with different ratios of maize, sunflower meal and AP, were pelleted. Response surface methodology (RSM) was applied when designing the experiment. The simultaneous and interactive effects of apple pomace share (APS) in the mixtures, die thickness (DT) of the pellet press and initial moisture content of the mixtures (M), on pellet quality and production parameters were investigated. Principal component analysis (PCA) and standard score (SS) analysis were applied for comprehensive analysis of the experimental data. The increase in APS led to an improvement of pellet quality parameters: pellet durability index (PDI), hardness (H) and proportion of fines in pellets. The increase in DT and M resulted in pellet quality improvement. The increase in DT and APS resulted in higher energy consumption of the pellet press. APS was the most influential variable for PDI and H calculation, while APS and DT were the most influential variables in the calculation of pellet press energy consumption. PCA showed that the first two principal components could be considered sufficient for data representation. In conclusion, addition of dried AP to feed model mixtures significantly improved the quality of the pellets.
Keywords: Apple pomace; alternative feedstuff; pellet quality; pelleting; production parameters.