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Feed Milling Cookie Activity

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The Feed Milling Cookie Activity is a fun-filled activity that gets youth into the kitchen to learn how baking is similar to making feed for animals!

Banner image for virtual cookie mill


Feed milling is the process of combining ingredients to make food for animals that meets their nutritional needs. This activity demonstrates how chocolate chip cookies can be a model of feed milling.

Feed Milling Make & Take Card and Presentation

A PDF copy of the Feed Milling Make & Take Card has been made available online for you to use as a guide for this project. The card includes the materials and methods required to go through the activity and a link back to this page to access the guided virtual tour and answers to common discussion questions.

Feed Mill Make and Take Card

This PowerPoint presentation was created as a step-by-step guide through this activity. Within the presentation, there is a guided tour, an ingredient matching activity, safety and hygiene steps, instructions, and guided discussion questions. Possible answers to the guided discussion questions (Bonus Questions) can be found at the bottom of this page.

Virtual Cookie Mill Presentation

Define Feed Milling

One of the Make & Take activities asks participants to define feed milling. We define feed milling as:

The process of combining ingredients to make food/feed for animals to meet their nutritional needs.

Guided Virtual Feed Mill Tour

Before starting, watch the NC State Feed Mill virtual tour to learn how feed is made and guide you through the baking activity.

This video walks viewers through the process of making feed at the NC State Feed Mill Education Unit and the narration compares the process to making cookies. Encourage groups to pay extra attention to how the process is similar or different from baking. This will be discussed at the end of the activity in the Bonus Questions.

If groups are interested in viewing the tour on their own and navigating through the facility on their own, they can try out the Virtual Feed Mill Tour. This tour is not guided and has no narration, so we recommend viewing the guided tour first.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
(Makes About 20 Cookies)

The next part of this activity is to bake cookies!


Does following a cookie recipe mimic making feed?


Combining cookie ingredients is similar to combining animal feed ingredients.


  • Oven, mixer, whisk, cookie sheet, oven mitt, wooden spoon, spatula
  • Bowl 1 Ingredients: ½C butter, ⅜C sugar, ⅜C brown sugar, ½tsp vanilla
  • 1 large egg  Do you know how to candle an egg to test for freshness?
  • Bowl 2 Ingredients: 1 ⅓C flour, ½tsp baking soda, ½tsp salt
  • Special Ingredients: 1C chocolate chips & ½C Your Choice (e.g. sprinkles)

Note: It may be helpful to label your bowls before you begin adding or mixing your ingredients.


  1. Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix Bowl 1 ingredients until creamy.
  3. Add egg. Do you know best practice for cracking an egg?
  4. Whisk Bowl 2 ingredients and gradually add to Bowl 1.
  5. Add Special Ingredients to Bowl 1 & stir twice with spoon. Is it well mixed?
  6. Finish stirring until mixing is complete.
  7. Drop about 20 rounded tablespoons of dough onto ungreased cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 2 minutes. Snap a photo and enjoy!

Ingredient Substitutions

When participating in this activity, it is important to be aware of any food allergies or dietary restrictions you or other participants may have. To help, we’ve provided a list of potential ingredient substitutions. When using a substitution, be sure to check on the amount needed for your recipe, since not all of these ingredients can be substituted 1:1.

Ingredient Potential substitute
Butter Applesauce, avocado, mashed bananas, Greek yogurt, pumpkin puree, vegan butter
Sugar Honey, maple syrup, agave, stevia, brown sugar
Brown Sugar White sugar + molasses, white sugar + maple syrup, coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, white sugar
Vanilla Chai spice, fruit zest, maple syrup, honey, imitation vanilla extract
Eggs Applesauce, mashed banana, yogurt, buttermilk, sweetened condensed milk, vegan egg substitutes
Wheat Flour (All-purpose) Chickpea flour, rice flour, almond flour, buckwheat flour
Baking Soda Baking powder, self-rising flour
Salt Lemon juice or zest, cinnamon
Chocolate Chips vegan chocolate chips or other non-chocolate ingredient

Baking and Food Safety

As you guide groups through this activity, keep the following rules in mind and be sure to remind participants as they go through the baking process.

Rules for baking

  • Do NOT eat raw dough or raw products – no matter how tempting it is! Raw products can be linked to foodborne illnesses, such as Salmonella
  • Tie back long hair
  • Remove loose jewelry
  • Roll up long sleeves
  • Make sure there is nothing in the oven before turning it on
  • Use oven mitts to remove food from oven
  • Turn off the oven when done baking
  • In the event of a fire, call 911 and notify an adult at home

Food safety

Before we begin:

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and clean, running water
  • Prepare your work station
    • Perform a visual inspection and remove any visible materials
    • Wipe with a cleaning solution
  • Wash your hands after working with raw products, or after you touch your face or any other “dirty” surface

Least-Cost Analysis (Advanced Discussion)

The provided presentation also contains a least-cost analysis of the cookie recipe to teach participants the importance of cost in determining which ingredients to use in a diet.

The first column shows the list of ingredients required in the recipe. The next column is the cost of each ingredient to make the recipe provided. At the bottom of the chart, the total cost of the recipe is calculated, along with the cost per pound and cost per ton. In the next two columns, we substitute regular flour with gluten-free flour and then add two times the amount of chocolate chips to the original recipe.

This can be an interesting discussion with groups of participants. Look how the cost when making the recipe one time. How does that compare to the cost of making substitutions or mistakes in the recipe when making a ton (2,000 lbs) of chocolate chip cookies? These are common topics of discussion when making animal feed. We have to be aware of costs and quality, especially when substitutions or mistakes are made.

Recipe Ingredients Cheapest ingredients we can find ($/recipe) Cheapest ingredients we can find + GF Flour ($/recipe) Cheapest ingredients we can find + 2x CC ($/recipe)
Flour $0.10 $0.67 $0.10
Baking soda $0.0030 $0.0030 $0.0030
Salt $0.0044 $0.0044 $0.0044
Sugar $0.08 $0.08 $0.08
Brown sugar $0.12 $0.12 $0.12
Vanilla extract $0.15 $0.15 $0.15
Chocolate chips $1.40 $1.40 $2.80
Butter $0.69 $0.69 $0.69
Eggs $0.13 $0.13 $0.13
Total cost per recipe $2.67 $3.25 $4.07
Cost per pound $8.42 $10.24 $12.83
Cost per ton $16,841.60 $20,484.15 $25,667.05

Bonus Questions

Bonus questions are a great way to keep participants engaged while cookies bake and cool. If you are hosting this activity over Zoom, consider grouping participants into breakout rooms during the baking process so they can discuss these questions. Once the cookies are out of the oven and cooling, bring the groups back to have a discussion among the entire group. Have at least one person per group share their group answers to each question and provide feedback. To encourage more participation, have a different person from each team give answers to each question.

  • What units are used to measure cookie vs. feed mill ingredients?

In the feed mill, we measure ingredients by weight. If we are working in our kitchens, we measure ingredients using cups, tablespoons, etc. In a commercial kitchen (think CakeBoss), you will measure your ingredients using weight because the quantities are so large.

  • What types of major, minor, or micro ingredients are in poultry feed?

Corn, soybean meal, and wheat are major ingredients. Poultry meal and distillers grains are good examples of minor ingredients. Each of these ingredients provide different types of nutrients in the diet and serve different purposes. They might be by-products of another industry, provide energy, protein, etc. Micro ingredients are sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), salt, vitamins, minerals, or enzymes. Even though they are a very small part of the diet, it is important to include them and have an efficient mixing procedure because they are essential to the animals.

  • How is it determined that feed is well mixed?

In our cookie activity, you can use your special ingredients (chocolate chips, sprinkles, etc.) to visualize how well your dough has been mixed. If there is an even distribution of these ingredients throughout your cookies, your ingredients have probably been mixed pretty well.

In a feed mill, we can’t necessarily visualize how well our ingredients have been mixed, so we can test samples of the product for certain ingredients or nutrients to see if there is an even distribution throughout the batch. One common way to measure this is to use a tracer ingredient, which is a single nutrient that comes from a single source or ingredient, such as salt. 10 evenly spaced samples are taken after the feed is mixed and those samples are taken to the Quality Assurance lab for analysis. For salt to be used as a tracer, it must provide the only source of chloride in the feed samples. This can also be done with amino acids, so long as they are only found in one ingredient in the diet.

  • What types of human food ingredients do animals also enjoy?

Animals are actually very good at making use of by-products from the human food industry. Ingredients such as bakery by-product meal or poultry fat are used in animal diets to provide important nutrients and increase sustainability, decreasing the amount of waste from the human food industries.

  • How is the process of making feed similar to baking cookies? How is it different?

There are many similarities between making feed and baking cookies. Ingredients are batched into the mixer by making sure the major dry ingredients are put into the mixer first, followed by minor and micro ingredients. This is to make sure the major ingredients act as carriers for the minor and micro ingredients so they are sufficiently mixed into the diets. If the minor and micro ingredients are added first, they might sit in the bottom of the mixer without being properly distributed. Once the ingredients are mixed, they are then pelleted, which is similar to the baking process, then the products are cooled and packaged.

Though the baking process is similar to making feed, there are some striking differences as well. During the mixing process for feed, liquid ingredients are added to the mixer last, whereas they are added first in our cookie recipe. Participants may also discuss the pelleting and loadout processes. Though pelleting is similar to baking, ovens do not use steam to bake and we aren’t pushing our cookies through a die to create different shapes – though we may do that with other recipes using cookie cutters!

  • Do you have any questions about the feed-making process?

Encourage participants to ask questions throughout the activity for more engagement. You can also send questions to Marissa Cohen for clarification.