Source: Feedinfo News Service (dated 20/09/2018) The US's decision to restrict the use of antibiotics in animal production was one of the most momentous developments in the feed additives sector for years. However, in many respects, the American industry is still finding its feet in terms of how to maintain performance while minimizing or eliminating recourse to antimicrobial solutions.

This makes gatherings such as the Poultry Science Association's annual meeting, held this July in San Antonio, especially important as a venue to share research on science-based solutions to keep animals healthy and productive.

Among the presentations at this year’s PSA annual meeting were multiple studies by Trouw Nutrition, focusing on topics including organic acids in drinking water, the effects of copper and zinc, and a measurement of the performance benefits of synergistic combinations of feed additives - important to understanding how feed additives can make the move away from antibiotics cost-effective.

 In an interview with the Feedinfo news service, Trouw Nutrition’s Program Manager Lead, Maarten van der Heijden,  followed up on these themes to share more about the company’s findings.

[Feedinfo News Service] One of your trials tested a diet including Presan-FY, Selko-pH, and IntelliBond C. Can you talk about the synergies between these different feed additives?

[Maarten van der Heijden] All three products have a different mode of action. While Selko-pH targets gram-negative bacteria, Presan-FY targets gram-positives. Also, the butyrates in Presan-FY have a beneficial effect on gut integrity and enterocyte quality. These products reach different portions of the intestine, each in a particular location where they are most effective. That’s possible due to the slow release capacity of one and the buffered organic acids in the other.

Additionally, switching the copper source from inorganic to hydroxy (IntelliBond) allows less interaction with feed components. Having less trace mineral tied up with diet antagonists, increases the amount of essential nutrients available for absorption and utilization. You can see that the combination is ideal; these feed additives make more nutrients available and make the gut ready to absorb them.

These feed additives have already proven their efficacy in other settings. What was new about these trials, and why were they important to Trouw Nutrition?

Although poultry genetics worldwide are more or less equal, the circumstances under which these birds are kept are very different. There are big differences in terms of feed quality, climate systems, breeding, brooding and health management. In order to meet our customers’ needs more precisely, we conduct trials that resemble real production situations.

Trouw Nutrition is now running global validation trials with our existing products in the major poultry producing countries, involving key stakeholders and experts from universities around the world. The aim is to show that our products have a positive impact on animal productivity under all kinds of circumstances in different regions. This also helps us to adjust our integrated feed-farm-health approach to the local circumstances of our customers, reaching the most economically solid solution in each situation. 

Tell me about the results of the trials: how did the feed additives compare to the diets which included antibiotic growth promoters?

The animals in the trial with the drinking water product showed equal performance in terms of feed conversion ratio (FCR) compared to the AGP (BMD 50ppm) in the feed, in the first phase. In the final phase and overall period, the FCR significantly improved for birds on the drinking water additive compared to the AGP.

In the trial where a combination of feed additives and water additives were used, the results showed similar FCR compared to AGP (BMD 50ppm), presenting similar production costs.

Trouw Nutrition has stated that little attention is paid to water as a delivery system for antibiotics alternatives. What did you find when you compared results of acidified drinking water to those of in-feed antibiotics? What makes this strategy different from in-feed organic acids?

If we consider the fact that animals drink twice the amount of water as the amount of feed they eat, there is no doubt that water is a strategic vehicle for products. Our products are buffered, which means that more active molecules are available in the intestine for a possible effect on the microbiota. Furthermore, when animals are sick or feeling less optimal, they will stop eating, but to a certain extent, they will keep drinking, giving an extra opportunity for the consumption of the product and its beneficial effects.

When comparing in-feed antibiotics to drinking water additives, the results show that additives perform as good and even better than AGPs. That means that profitably reducing antibiotics is possible.

Several of your recent trials have focused on the effects of copper and zinc in their hydroxychloride form, including trials to test their effects on performance parameters and bone quality, as well as their synergistic effects with organic acids.  Can you talk about how your understanding of hydroxychloride minerals has evolved over the last few years, particularly since Trouw Nutrition acquired this portfolio?

Hydroxy trace minerals represent a completely new technology in trace mineral nutrition. Each hydroxy trace mineral (zinc, copper and manganese) is designed to deliver more biologically available trace metal across the intestinal wall. Making them available to the animal in this way, supports essential physiological systems and cost-effective performance.

Initially our research was focused on relative bioavailability and live animal performance- based observations. However, recent research efforts are directed towardmoving in a different direction. We are working on understanding the inherent benefits of hydroxy trace minerals to a more optimized immune function in the animal and its impact on specific performance parameters such as carcass yield and meat quality.

Given the unique structure and stability of hydroxy trace minerals they can avoid negative reactions in feed and the gut, thereby increasing the level of essential trace metals delivered to the animal to support optimized well-being, performance and product quality.

Do you think it remains relevant to demonstrate to the industry the performance benefits of alternatives to antibiotics? Is there much to prove in terms of the efficacy of organic acids and similar feed additives?

It is still indeed relevant to show producers the options they have to reduce or eliminate antibiotics from the growing process, since many people are still sceptical about this approach.

The increasing amount of data we have to support our findings in this field helps us to prove to animal producers the potential of our feed-farm-health strategy. Next to that, performing trials under different conditions around the globe helps us to optimize our approach for each customer in their specific situation. That way, we can adjust our integrated offer to the specific needs and situation of each customer.

How important are events like the PSA for Trouw Nutrition to remain engaged with the American market? Do you receive useful feedback on the research you are presenting there?

Attending events globally is important for us in two ways. First of all, they are a good opportunity for us to share our latest knowledge with the industry, but secondly and most importantly, being present at those events helps us to be in touch with the trends in the industry and the daily challenges of poultry producers. This helps us to keep our innovation strategy on course and ensures our offer is relevant for customers.