by Antonia Tacconi, Global Product Line Manager Phytogenics, Biomin

 

Phytogenic feed additives are a mixture of plant-derived material containing active ingredients that can be considered as part of the plant secondary metabolites.

These secondary metabolites are, in general, produced by plants in respect to three main mode of actions: firstly, they play an important role for the protection of the plant from both abiotic and biotic stress; secondly, they are needed by the plant to attract different pollinators and, thirdly, they play an important role for the defense of the plant itself.

In fact, some of these metabolites can help against herbivores (as, for example, repellants or because they are toxic to the organisms), but also against different microbes (by inhibiting the growth of the microbes or reducing their virulence); and, they are also important for the plant to compete against other plants (by inhibiting germination of adjacent plants or inhibiting the growth of seedlings and so on).

The role of phytogenics in animal nutrition

Phytogenics are known to have a range of biologically active properties beneficial in modern livestock production, including antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and nutrient absorption-enhancing effects. According to results of the Biomin Phytogenic Feed Additives Survey, we have a clear picture of the reasons that nutritionists, growers, business owners, veterinarians and consultants use or recommend the application of phytogenic feed additives in animal diets.

Top reasons for applying phytogenic feed additives:

  1. Digestibility enhancement
  2. Antimicrobial effects
  3. AGP replacement strategy
  4. Growth promotion
  5. Anti-inflammatory effects
  6. Good past experience
  7. Better feed conversion ratio
  8. Higher feed intake

(Source: Biomin Phytogenic Feed Additives Survey)

Commodity vs innovative value proposition

These secondary metabolites can be very versatile in their mode of action and their characteristics can also help to improve and support animal production. The raw materials used for phytogenic feed additives can be bought as commodities. However, the level of active substances in these commodities naturally varies, so it's important to have strict purchasing and quality control guidelines in place to ensure that the supplement delivers the expected results.

Simplicity comes at a cost to feed producers. Research has documented the benefits specific combination of active plant-based substances. Scientifically formulated, more complex products typically outperform single ingredients when it comes to encouraging feed intake, supporting gut performance and delivering a return on investment.

At Biomin, the fundamental concept when formulating phytogenic feed additives is to consider the interaction between various active compounds and identifying the correct combination to best support feed and animal producers at the specific production phase for each species.

This requires an important investment in terms of time, money and other resources into research and development. Only this ensures a better understanding of these dynamics and allows producers of phytogenic feed additives to offer the best and cost-effective solutions for the market.

Science-backed approach, proven results

Recently our cutting-edge Digestarom® DC technology received approval as a zootechnical feed additive from the European Commission. This is a major achievement for the company as the results that can be achieved with the product were validated by external bodies and they agreed that the product works and consistently delivers the expected results. The process to get such a registration is quite laborious and long and there are still just a few companies who have been successful with the process. Biomin is the only feed additive producer offering EU authorised solutions for both mycotoxin risk management and phytogenics.

Withstanding feed processing

The Duplex Capsule (DC) technology is extremely important when it comes to the application of some of the most commonly employed phytogenic compounds used in the animal industry: eg oregano oil and its derivative compounds. In fact, one of the characteristics of essential oils is that they are volatile, and hence degrade when exposed to high temperatures. The unique DC encapsulation technology ensures that these volatile compounds are protected during pelletisation, extrusion or expansion.

Biomin has a long experience in the market

At Biomin we have a long history of working with phytogenic feed additives. Our experience dates back more than 30 years and we have been serving the markets with the best available products so far and our products are sold all over the world with great success. We have loyal customers and constantly strive to understand their challenges in animal production to improve and further develop our product concepts.

Understanding production challenges in a key

Understanding better animal production and the challenges related to operations all over the world are key to developing the right products. Our experience shows that, although it would be great to have one solution for all species and all phases, it is almost impossible to find a product that can do it all, especially if one wants to be cost-effective. The reason for this is related to the different challenges that an animal undergoes in the different phases of production.

Consider, as an example, swine production, where the challenges facing a newborn piglet differ considerably to the challenges faced by a finisher pig or a sow. For this reason, our priority has always been understanding the dynamics of animal production. For a newborn piglet many problems could occur: chilling, failure of colostrum intake, diarrhea, birth defects and crushing.

Clearly, some of these problems cannot be solved by a phytogenic feed additive or any other nutritional strategy; these require management solutions. However, certain issues can be addressed by using the correct feed additive at the right time and in the right dosage.

Scours in piglets

For example, bacterial diarrhea among neonatal piglets is frequent. A phytogenic feed additive could help reduce the losses related to scours. As the animals are not eating solid feed in this period, the correct application is important. Our solution for such problems is an oral application of a product that combines antibacterial properties of active substances with other compounds that support the immune system and ensure stress relief for the animal.

Sow support

On the other hand, sows have other issues that need to be addressed. Probably the biggest challenge for a sow is to rear healthy and strong piglets without losing too much body condition, so that she returns to serve quickly. Feed intake and nutrient utilisation are probably among the most important aspects that need to be addressed when formulating feed additives for sows. The combination of active substances in phytogenic feed additives that we use at Biomin for sows are designed to ensure energy partitioning as well as gut microbiota stabilisation so that the animal can utilise the nutrients that are fed better and the body condition can be maintained during lactation.

Conclusion

These are just several examples of how Biomin approaches the development of phytogenic feed additives. It is important to make sure that the market is understood and that there is a clear and fluid exchange of information with the customers and producers themselves because only this can guarantee that products available address market needs and satisfy customers' expectations.

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