Reducing feed costs by the use of phytogenics
For decades, broiler producers tend to use high-density diets to feed their stocks seeking the highest possible profitability. But with increasing feed prices, the whole production process is under big challenge. The severe problems resulting from these feed prices have just forced us to search for alternatives to the conventional feeding programs which are based always on offering high-nutrients diets in order to increase the profitability.
With conventional nutrition, producers tend to make use of the least-cost feed formulations which served for long time as powerful solution to optimize high feed prices. But by the other hand formulating broiler diets by the least-cost tool is not that easy as in ruminants because of the differences in the availability of raw materials for poultry and ruminants. Of course there are some programs that can target lower feed cost in effective way, but unfortunately most of these programs failed to keep the balance between lower feed cost and acceptable performance.
Down specified diets should be formulated in the way that guarantees the achievement of acceptable levels of performance and high quality product.
Digestibility is the key factor for growth compensation
The power of any feed additive is judged through its potential in improving the utilization of protein, amino acids and energy. Unfortunately there is no linearity between digestibility and the density of the offered feed which means that we may offer a very rich diet but its digestibility may remain low. Nutrients digestibility or utilization depends on many factors. For example the microbial status of the gastrointestinal tract or existence of bacterial challenge and nutrients source and their accessibility to the animal for absorption. Through controlling gut microflora, phytogenic feed additives have a great potential to improve nutrients digestibility. With the addition of the phytogenics, essential oils take a place in the gut to kill pathogenic bacteria and hence lowering the competition on the nutrients between bacteria and their host which makes more nutrients available for absorption.
Nutrient-sparing and environment
It is a big challenge to supply the market with safe product (natural or antibiotic free product) that meets the customer satisfaction, beneficial for animal health, environmentally friendly and having an economical value. Focusing on the environmental issue, animal production is accused to be a key player in the emissions of greenhouse gases. Some aberrant views went to call for limiting animal production while ignoring the demand on animal products is increasing and it will double in 2050. Therefore, nutrient sparing could be a powerful solution to limit the emissions because decreasing one protein unit may decrease greenhouse gases by 10%. As they are natural compounds extracted from plants, phytogenics are safe for animal and human consumption. Phytogenic feed additives being used for their beneficial effects in terms of performance improvers where they always allow better conversion for the feed. Furthermore, phytogenic feed additives work to decrease ammonia emissions through improving protein utilization and hence decreasing the loss of N in the manure.
Multiple actions for multiple targets
Due to the high genetic potential of modern broiler strains, these birds tend to be very susceptible to any decrease in protein and energy levels. In addition to their efficacy in improving the productive performance, Phytogenics can be used to decrease or even diminish the risk in feed formulation which occurs because of improper mixing, variation in nutrient composition within feedstuffs or inadequate ingredients. We believe that this effect is very significant because manufacture errors are quite difficult to be observed and can cause severe loss in productivity and hence profitability. Many studies have proven that phytogenic feed additives have positive impact on different health parameters where feeding birds these compounds has led to lower microbial content in the digestive tract, lower toxins and ammonia production, improved immunity and lower mortality.
There is a positive correlation between metabolic diseases and high-density feed. It was shown that sudden death syndrome and ascites can be controlled via feed optimization. Furthermore, chronic stress can be induced by high nutrients feed through increasing birds’ metabolic rate which can be avoided by offering low-density diets.
The target behind the combination of nutrient-sparing and phytogenic feed additives is to pool their advantages to end up with a modern feeding program that can meet the modern broiler performance and in the same time to avoid as much as possible the consequences of high feed prices.
To investigate the growth compensating effect of phytogenics and also the impact of diet down specification with or without a commercial phytogenic product, an experiment in Novi Sad University was performed where birds were assigned into four treatment groups as shown in Table 1.
|Treatment ||Description ||Energy/nutrient** density ||Phytogenic product |
|T1 ||Standard specification diet (SD) ||100% ||- |
SD + phytogenic product
|100% ||+ |
|T3 ||Re-formulated diet (RD) ||98.5% ||- |
RD + phytogenic product
|98.5% ||+ |
** Metabolizable energy and amino acids
Figure 1 shows that offering the low-density diet resulted in about 2% reduction in live body weight while the phytogenic product showed a clear compensation effect as group 4 had exactly the same live body weight of the control group. Surprisingly, feed conversion ratio of the 4th group (re-formulated with the feed additive) was the lowest among all groups (Figure 2), which proves the efficacy of phytogenics as digestibility enhancers.
Figure 1: Effect of a commercial phytogenic feed additive on live weight
of broilers fed standard or re-formulated diets.
Figure 2: Effect of a commercial phytogenic feed additive on feed conversion ratio of broilers fed
The obtained results revealed that lowering nutrients in the feed had a negative impact on body weight and feed conversion ratio which seems logic because of the high nutritional requirements of broiler chickens. On the other hand the nutrient-sparing effect of the phytogenic feed additive was clear where it was capable on recovering live body weight and interestingly lowering feed conversion ratio.
Now one must go beyond the traditional thinking to new horizons in animal nutrition where we will find different options (scenarios). The first option (scenario) represents the standard feeding program resulting in standard performance. In the second scenario, the same level of performance is achieved by reformulating the diet using phytogenic feed additives. Finally, according to the 3rd scenario, re-formulation of the diet with phytogenic feed additives provides an increased level of performance while maintaining feed cost (Figure 3). Choosing the right scenario depends on the actual targets of the producers.
Figure 3: The concept of nutrient-sparing, including 3 different scenarios
The fundamental question is ‟do the conventional feeding programs serve for the modern broiler production?” It appears that the combination of nutrient-sparing tool with phytogenic feed additives is a sustainable and safe solution allowing for reducing feed cost while maintaining the desired performance.standard or re-formulated diets.