Viruses are a threat to livestock health and performance and can be detrimental to the economic success of producers globally.

Feed ingredients have recently been identified as a potential risk for viral contamination and several studies indicate that certain feed ingredients may present a higher risk than others.

Those more likely to support the survival, and in turn transmission, of viruses include soybean meal, distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS), lysine, methionine and vitamin D.

The survival times of viruses in feed materials are variable, ranging from seven to more than 180 days. There are multiple factors which can play a crucial role in viral survival times, including environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity and also the type of virus and whether or not it is enveloped or non-enveloped.

First line of defence

High-level biosecurity measures applied throughout the supply chain are the first line of defence in reducing viral transmission.

However, even with the strictest of biosecurity measures in place, if the proven risk associated with viral transmission in contaminated feed is not considered, the unit is still susceptible to viral outbreak.

Therefore, the established link of viral transmission via feed material is an additional area for producer to incorporate into existing biosecurity measures and programmes.

Treating feed with an effective additive which has proven anti-viral action can help to mitigate the adverse effects of in-feed viruses.

A recent study conducted by Dr Scott Dee was undertaken at Pipestone Applied Research Facility in the United States. Having concluded in a 2018 paper that 'contaminated feed ingredients could serve as vehicles for the transport of viral pathogens between regions, countries or even across continents,' this new trial was carried out to test the anti-viral efficacy of widely available feed additives on excessive viral loads in feed of common viral challenges in the swine industry.

The challenge

Pigs were challenged with Seneca Valley A (SVA), Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome virus (PRRSv) and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus (PEDv). The feed was infected with these viruses using Dr Dee's innovative ice block model and pigs were offered either the infected feed with no additives, or the infected feed supplemented with pHorce which was included at three kg per tonne of feed.

n the trial, pigs fed infected control diets had both a high infection rate and exhibited clinical symptoms of SVA, PEDv and PRRSv.

However, there was no evidence of SVA or PRRS infection observed in the pigs consuming feed supplemented with pHorce, nor were there any clinical symptoms of any of these viruses.

The improved health and reduced incidence of viral infection in the pigs fed infected feed supplemented with pHorce resulted in additional performance benefits. Pigs exhibited a significantly higher average daily gain and a numerically lower mortality. Such performance benefits can provide economic advantages, helping to support producer profitability.

In principle, it can be assumed that agents based on formic acid which have demonstrated good efficacy under experimental conditions against enveloped DNA viruses are also likely to be effective against additional viruses, such as African Swine Fever (ASF).

'To find that pHorce, which is formaldehyde free, not only delivers effective anti-bacterial and anti-fungal action, but also successfully protects feed with proven anti-viral activity at a relatively low inclusion is massively important', said Dr Wendy Wakeman, Anpario's Global Technical Director.

'This finding will help in ensuring the biosecurity and safety of future feed and livestock production.

'Anpario have worked with Acid Based Eubiotic (ABE) feed additives for more than 30 years with a particular focus on pathogen control,' adds Dr Wakeman.

'The proven anti-viral activity of pHorce, specifically in the mitigation of the effect of PRRS, PEDV and SVA, highlights the effective triple action of the feed additive, which is also a well-established anti-bacterial and anti-fungal product.'

A vector for viral pathogens

Whilst many of those involved in feed and livestock production are well aware of the risk posed by feed contaminated with moulds and bacteria and the impact they can have on feed quality and animal health and performance, the role of feed in viral transmission also needs to be considered.

Whilst feed has only recently been recognised as a vector for viral pathogens, high quality feed and raw materials are fundamental in reducing the outbreak of viruses in livestock production systems globally.

Therefore, a mitigant such as pHorce, which provides triple action benefits, is cost-effective and a low inclusion additive, is ideal for use in feed biosecurity programmes for the proactive protection against bacteria, fungi and viruses. References are available on request.

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