A 2017 survey of 1,140 respondents in 100 countries has shown that enhanced feed efficiency and a better feed conversion ratio (FCR) are the most important potential benefits of phytogenic feed additives (PFAs) for poultry producers. At the same time, 18.8% of respondents said that they do not use phytogenics because of concerns about reliability and consistency of results.
Quality control for consistent results
PFAs consist of various compounds of plant origin selected for their ability to positively affect animal performance. Due to ecological factors and climatic conditions, the natural raw materials used in phytogenics, e.g. essential oils or non-volatile extracts, typically contain varying levels of active compounds. This natural variation increases the likelihood of inconsistent results. The solution is for the PFA manufacturer to implement a robust and reliable quality control system.
The 4 keys of quality control
More sophisticated and advanced companies have a strict quality check system in place. The quality control system involves:
- working with certified suppliers,
- applying detailed specifications for raw material procurement,
- strict quality control plan execution and
- analytical and sensory evaluation of raw materials and finished products.
The first two points pertain to intelligent procurement–which is necessary in order to source the raw materials with the correct amount of active substances. Given that the amount of active substances vary, as in the case of menthol in Figure 1, it is important to be selective in choosing only the highest quality ingredients. That means rejecting raw materials that do not meet stringent specifications.
Figure 1. Raw material quality specifications, with the example of varying menthol content in different mint oils and a strict quality acceptance range.
Regarding the third point, faithful implementation of a QC plan is key to securing certifications, such as GMP+ and others.
Lastly, for poultry producers to get the best results from PFAs, it is important for manufacturers to conduct sensory evaluation of raw materials by a scientifically trained panel and, more importantly, analytical evaluation of raw materials and finished products.
State-of-the-art, in-house use of analytical tools such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and gas chromatography flame ionization detector (GC-FID) are essential for proper quality control of volatile active compounds.
Results for poultry
Ensuring high quality inputs and monitoring the quality of phytogenic feed additives is essential for poultry producers to see consistent, reliable results in their flocks. The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and digestibility enhancing effects of a select PFA has been shown to optimise feed conversion. These benefits, coupled with reliability, make the right PFAs a powerful tool for modern poultry production.