2018 BIOMIN Phytogenic Feed Additives Survey

Respondents from over 80 countries provided their views on the use of phytogenic feed additives (PFAs) in livestock within the framework of the 2018 BIOMIN Phytogenic Feed Additives Survey. Views from nutritionists, veterinarians, business owners, CEOs and consultants accounted for more than half of the completed questionnaires (Table 1). In total, 758 respondents from 87 countries across the world (Figure 1) answered the survey in December 2017. The sample group included many key decision-makers. More than three-quarters (82%) of respondents played a role in selecting feed ingredients for their organization. The feed industry and consultants accounted for 42% of responses, followed by those working in the poultry sector (21%), including broiler and egg producers, integrators, breeders/hatcheries and turkey farms. Respondents from academic and research institutions accounted for 13%, as shown in Figure 2. Opinions were gathered from respondents representing the poultry, swine, ruminant and aquaculture industries.

Table 1. Role of respondents

Veterinarian18.9%
Nutritionist17.7%
Scientist/Researcher/Academic14.1%
Sales/Marketing9.6%
CEO/Owner/Managing Director9.4%
Consultant8.7%
Grower/owner6.7%
Live production manager5.9%
Other5.4%
Quality Assurance/Quality Control/Procurement3.6%

n = 758 Source: BIOMIN Phytogenic Feed Additives Survey, 2018


Figure 1. 
Survey respondents by region

Figure 1. Survey respondents by region

Figure 2. Businesses represented by respondents

Figure 2. Businesses represented by respondents

User base

Just over half the respondents (51%) indicated that they currently used PFAs as part of their poultry or livestock feeding program. 11% of the respondents had used PFAs in the past but were no longer using them, while 38% had never used PFAs (Figure 3).
Respondents in Asia Pacific showed the highest rate of PFA use of any region at 65%. In South America, the majority of respondents (53%) indicated that they currently used phytogenics, followed by the North and Central America (47%). Respondents in Europe, the Middle East and Africa were least likely to use PFAs, but 43% of respondents still indicated current use.
By job profile, nutritionists were supporters of PFA use, with 65% of nutritionists identifying themselves as current users, followed by veterinarians (56%) then business owners, CEOs and managing directors (55%).
By business type, feed manufacturers and feed millers reported current PFA use with 70% and 63% answering yes, respectively.

Figure 3. Do you currently use phytogenic feed additives?

Figure 3. Do you currently use phytogenic feed additives?

For context, PFAs are applied to approximately 3% to 5% of global livestock feed tonnage each year. This suggests that the respondent group was not a fully representative sample of all feed and livestock producers around the world. However, the roughly equal split of users and non-users provides a useful comparison of the motivations and views between the two groups.

Motivations for PFA use

The antimicrobial effect of PFAs was the most popular reason given for their use, cited by 50.1% of respondents (Figure 4). Digestibility enhancement was another important reason for PFA use cited by 49.6% of respondents. Respondents also used PFAs for growth promotion (46.3%), within an antibiotic-growth promoter (AGP) replacement strategy (38.9%), for their anti-inflammatory effects (38.9%) and for improving feed conversion ratio (FCR; 30.2%).

Figure 4. Top reasons that respondents gave for PFA use

Figure 4. Top reasons that respondents gave for PFA use

Antimicrobial effect

Phytogenic ingredients are known for their antimicrobial properties, particularly against Gram-positive bacteria. Respondents in South America were most strongly convinced by the antimicrobial properties of PFAs at 53.8%, followed by Europe, the Middle East and Africa (50.6%), North and Central America (48.7%) and Asia Pacific (44.8%).

Digestibility enhancement

Specific plant compounds can improve digestibility by supporting digestive secretion of bile, mucus and saliva, as well as enhancing enzyme activity. Respondents from North and Central America and those from Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said they used PFAs for the digestibility enhancement effects, with 56.4% and 56.8% of respondents in each region respectively. Those in Asia Pacific and South America selected digestibility improvement at an equal rate of 44.8%.

Growth promotion

The growth promoting effects of PFAs stem from a combination of antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative and digestion-enhancing properties. The growth promoting effects of PFAs received the highest recognition from professionals in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, at 55.6%, followed by North and Central America (48.7%), Asia Pacific (44.8%) and South America (40.7%).

AGP replacement strategy

PFAs can play a role in a holistic approach to antibiotic reduction that incorporates biosecurity, vaccination, farm management and nutrition improvements. A full 62% of survey respondents indicated that they expected to decrease the use of antibiotics in farm animals over the next 12 months. Respondents in Asia Pacific cited the use of PFAs in AGP replacement more than any other region, at 51.7%, followed by Latin America (43.4%), North and Central America (32.1%) and finally Europe, the Middle East and Africa (23.5%).

Improvement in FCR

Application of a properly formulated PFA may deliver an FCR improvement of up to 5 points.
Overall, an improved FCR found moderate support across all regions. An improvement in FCR was chosen as the main reason for PFA use by professionals in North and Central America (33.3%), followed by Europe, the Middle East and Africa (32.1%), South America (29%) and Asia Pacific (27.6%).

Anti-inflammatory effects

Considerable energy may be wasted because of inflammation: energy that would otherwise be used for growth and performance. Application of plant-derived substances such as PFAs that counter inflammation are therefore a viable, nonantibiotic method to promote growth in farm animals. The anti-inflammatory effects of PFAs were cited much more frequently by respondents in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (55.6%) compared to other regions. Respondents in North and Central America cited anti-inflammatory effects 38.5% of the time, followed by those in Asia Pacific (33.3%) and South America (33.1%).

Higher feed intake

Phytogenics can improve the palatability of feed and thereby improve feed intake, which is particularly desirable in young animals or when feeding less palatable or medicated feed. Improving feed intake was more highly appreciated by respondents in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (27.2%) and North and Central America (23.1%) compared to those in Asia Pacific (19.5%) and South America (15.2%).

Environmental emission reduction

As PFAs improve feed efficiency and digestibility, less feed is needed per unit of output (meat, eggs or milk), meaning that the environmental footprint of farm animals is lower. Interestingly, this factor was most appreciated by respondents in Asia Pacific (28.7%), followed by North and Central America (23.1%), South America (18.6%) and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (9.9%).

Meat quality and carcass improvements

PFA application can be beneficial in terms of meat quality characteristics that are additional to the digestibility and feed efficiency improvements.
The use of PFAs to improve meat or carcass quality found the greatest favor among respondents in Asia Pacific (26.4%) and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (24.7%), followed by South America (15.2%) and North and Central America (14.1%).

Use in combination with AGPs

Respondents in South America were most likely to use PFAs in combination with antibiotic growth promoters, at 26.9%, compared to those in Asia Pacific (18.4%), North and Central America (12.8%), and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (7.4%)

Good past experience

Industry professionals in North and Central America gave greater weight to good past experience of PFA use (21.8%) compared to their counterparts in other regions, such as Europe, the Middle East and Africa (17.3%), Asia Pacific (14.9%) and South America (11%).

Nutrient sparing

The use of PFAs as a tool to support the down specification of diets was most popular in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (17.3%), followed by South America (15.9%), North and Central America (12.8%) and Asia Pacific (8%).

Commercially mixed products widely favored

Of the respondents who currently used PFAs, 86% purchased commercially mixed products available from feed additive producers, while 20% applied their own blend of oils and herbs and another 3% were unsure of the provenance of the PFA products used (Figure 5). Respondents were able to select more than one answer and the results indicate that some respondents combine commercially available PFA products with their own blends of oils and herbs.

Figure 5. Which type of phytogenic product do you use?

Figure 5. Which type of phytogenic product do you use?

Application methods

Respondents preferred applying PFAs via the feed (61%) compared to water application (8%), although many respondents chose both (25%) (Figure 6).

Figure 6. PFA application method preferences

Figure 6. PFA application method preferences

Extent of PFA use and production stage

Respondents were asked what percentage of their animals received PFAs at some stage in the production cycle. Responses indicated that the extent of phytogenic use is evenly spread, as shown in Figure 7. Nearly 40% of respondents indicated that the majority of their animals received PFAs, while more than one quarter of respondents applied PFAs to between 20% and 49% of their animals. Another quarter of respondents applied PFAs to less than 20% of their animals. PFA application was most common in the first seven days of broiler production, during the pullet phase of layer/breeder production, in nursery to weaning piglets, and in lactating dairy cows as well as in calves and beef cattle.

Figure 7. What percentage of your herd/flock receive PFAs?

Figure 7. What percentage of your herd/flock receive PFAs?

Intention to increase PFA use

When asked about their future plans, the majority of respondents (60%) indicated that they planned to increase their PFA usage over the next 12 months. 21% expected to maintain their current level of PFA use, while 18% were unsure. Only 1% planned to decrease PFA use (Figure 8).
These expectations support the strong growth in demand for PFAs for farm animals globally, and are in line with projections that the PFA market will surpass the US$1 billion threshold by 2023.

Figure 8. PFA use intentions for the next 12 months

Figure 8. PFA use intentions for the next 12 months

Commercially mixed PFAs offer a number of advantages, including:

  • robust quality control measures ensure the final product contains a suitable amount of active substances
  • formulation can be tailored to optimize the benefits in a given species
  • encapsulation ensures proper delivery of phytogenic substances where they are needed in the animal’s gastrointestinal tract
  • thermostability to withstand the pelleting process

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