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2020 Biomin® Phytogenic Feed Additive Survey Results

The 2020 BIOMIN® Phytogenic Feed Additive survey results reveal how and why feed and agribusiness professionals across the globe use plant-derived substances such as herbs, essential oils and phytochemicals, known as phytogenic feed additives (PFAs) in food animal diets to improve animal health, growth and profitability.

• The 2020 PFA survey results are largely in line with results from the 2018 edition.
• The majority of respondents expected their PFA use to increase in the following 12 months.
• Antimicrobial effect, digestibility enhancement and growth promotion are once again cited as the top three reasons for use among global respondents.
• Nutrient or energy sparing was cited by nearly twice as many respondents as their reason for PFA use compared to 2018 survey results.

2020 BIOMIN® Phytogenic Feed Additive Survey Results
Gain insights from industry views and questions answered by Dr Antonia Tacconi, Global Product Line Manager Phytogenics at BIOMIN.

Demographics

Views from nutritionists, veterinarians, business owners, CEOs and consultants accounted for more than half of the completed questionnaires (Table 1). In total, 669 respondents from 79 countries (Figure 1) completed the survey during the seven-week response period ending in January 2020. The sample group included many key decision-makers. A full three-quarters (76%) of respondents played a role in selecting feed ingredients for their organization (Figure 2).

Respondents to the 2020 BIOMIN PFA survey covered a wide range of industry roles.
Table 1. 2020 PFA Survey respondents by role, n = 655
Two thirds of respondents of the 2020 BIOMIN PFA survey came from Latin America and Asia and Oceania.
Figure 1. 2020 PFA Survey respondents by region, n = 541
Alt text: 75% of respondents to the 2020 BIOMIN PFA survey were involved in the feed ingredient purchase decision
Figure 2. 2020 PFA Survey respondents involved in feed ingredient purchase decisions, n = 656

Repondents to the 2020 BIOMIN PFA survey 

The largest percentage of responses in the total sample came from consultants, followed by those in poultry production, researchers, and feed mills. Distributors and additive producers along with ruminants, swine and aquaculture production were also represented (Figure 3).

Respondents to the 2020 BIOMIN PFA survey came from a wide variety of business sectors.
Figure 3. 2020 PFA Survey respondents by business sector, n = 657

Use of phytogenic feed additives

Slightly over half the respondents (52%) 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 4). These results are nearly identical to previous editions of the BIOMIN® PFA Survey.
 

Over half of respondents to the 2020 BIOMIN PFA survey currently used PFAs.
Figure 4. Do you currently use PFAs? n = 616

Application in diets

Among the 52% of respondents that currently applied PFAs, 75% used commercially mixed products, 11% used their own blend of oils and herbs, and 14% used both (respondents could select multiple options; Figure 5).

75% of respondents to the 2020 BIOMIN PFA survey used commercially mixed products.
Figure 5. Types of PFAs applied by respondents, n = 308
The inherent variability of active compounds in plant raw materials makes commercially mixed PFA products the more popular choice.

The popularity of using commercially mixed products in animal diets compared with blending essential oils and herbs on-site is likely due to the inherent variability of active compounds in plant raw materials.

Due to ecological and climatic factors, the natural raw materials used in essential oils or non-volatile extracts typically contain varying levels of active compounds (Figure 6). This natural variation increases the likelihood of inconsistent results.

Strict quality control

The popularity of using commercially mixed products in animal diets compared with blending essential oils and herbs on-site is likely due to the inherent variability of active compounds in plant raw materials.

Due to ecological and climatic factors, the natural raw materials used in essential oils or non-volatile extracts typically contain varying levels of active compounds (Figure 6). This natural variation increases the likelihood of inconsistent results.

A well-formulated PFA product produced according to strict quality specifications can overcome the challenge of raw material variability by standardizing a specific amount of active substance and thus providing better consistency. The faithful implementation of our strict quality control measures is key to securing certifications such as GMP+ and others for our range of Digestarom® products.

Different PFA producers and suppliers may have different approaches to purchasing and quality control, so it is important for buyers to do their due diligence to confirm relevant standards and certifications.

Menthol content in different mint oils varies widely reinforcing the need for strict quality control.
Figure 6. The varying menthol content of different mint oils reinforces the need for a strict quality acceptance range

It is important for PFA manufacturers to conduct sensory evaluation of raw materials by a scientifically trained panel and, more importantly, analytical evaluation of raw materials and finished products to ensure feed and animal protein producers get the best results from their PFA 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 the proper quality control of volatile active compounds.

Advantages of commercially mixed PFAs:

  • standardization of active substances

  • tailored to optimize benefits in each species or growth cycle phase

  • encapsulation for delivery to the gastrointestinal tract

  • thermostable to withstand pelleting and extrusion conditions

Nearly all PFAs are applied in feed or premixes according to respondents of the 2020 BIOMIN PFA survey.
Figure 7. Most PFAs are applied in feed or premixes, n = 298

Nearly all PFAs are applied in feed or premixes 

Nearly half of those using PFAs applied them in the feed (46%; Figure 7). Inclusion in premix was reported by 37% of respondents while including in a micro- or macro-mineral mix accounted for 12%. Just 5% applied PFAs via drinking water. These percentages were consistent across all regions.

Motivations for PFA use

Respondents who currently used PFAs were asked to select their reasons for use. Antimicrobial effect and digestibility enhancement were each cited by 55% of respondents, closely followed by growth promotion (49%; Table 2). These three reasons have consistently ranked as the top three motivations for PFA application each year that the survey has been conducted.

The top 3 reasons for using PFAs remain unchanged in 2020 BIOMIN PFA survey being antimicrobial, digestibility and growth.
Table 2. Motivations for PFA use, n = 297

Antimicrobial effect

Phytogenic substances such as carvacrol, thymol and cinnamaldehyde are known for their antimicrobial properties, particularly against Gram-positive bacteria. The antimicrobial mode of action of each phytochemical substance varies, and research is ongoing to increase our understanding in this area.

The ability of a PFA to modulate microbial activity is of greater relevance than the direct antimicrobial activity when it comes to application via the feed. Phytogenic feed additives help stabilize a healthy microbiota and hence indirectly reduce pathogenic microbial pressure in the gastrointestinal tract. This limits competition between the animal and the microbes for nutrients.
 

PFAs help stabilize a healthy microbiota and hence indirectly reduce pathogenic microbial pressure in the gastrointestinal tract.

Digestibility enhancement

Specific plant compounds can improve digestibility in several ways including:

  • A direct effect on digestive secretions of bile, mucus, and saliva
  • Increasing gut integrity
  • Antioxidant effects to spare energy and nutrients
  • Anti-inflammatory effects to spare energy and nutrients
  • Modulation of the gut microbiota
The enhanced digestibility achieved with PFA application leads to a more complete use of nutrients and therefore an improvement in performance.

Improvement in digestibiliy with Digestarom

Respondents in Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa rated improved digestibility as their top motivation for PFA application.

A digestibility study conducted at the Free University of Berlin, Germany demonstrated that Digestarom® increased the apparent ileal digestibility of proteins and other nutrients in piglets (Figure 8). Fewer undigested nutrients remained in the gastrointestinal tract, improving gut health and reducing ammonia emissions.

Improvement in apparent ileal digestibiliy of various nutrients with Digestarom®.
Figure 8. Digestarom® improves the apparent ileal digestibility of crude protein, fat, starch, calcium, and phosphorus

Growth promotion

The growth promoting effects of PFAs stem from a combination of the following properties:

  • Antiseptic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-oxidative
  • Digestion-enhancing

AGP replacement strategy

Phytogenic feed additives play a role in a holistic approach to antibiotic reduction incorporating biosecurity, vaccination, farm management and nutrition improvements.

Whenever antibiotic growth promoter (AGP) replacement is considered, it is important to understand the implications for each operation. For example, in some poultry units when AGPs are eliminated from the standard feeding program, problems related to necrotic enteritis are seen. In these units, reducing the necrotic enteritis problems is the main objective during AGP replacement.
Phytogenic feed additives formulated to beneficially impact the microbiota, reducing anti-inflammatory effects and hence reducing energy and nutrient losses, have proven to be the product of choice in the proper management of coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis problems.

In other units, removing AGPs might lead to a general decrease in performance. In such cases, understanding the cause of the reduced performance is key to finding the correct replacement program. Generally, any drop in performance can be linked to subclinical enteric challenges. Reducing the anti-inflammatory response and improving antioxidant effects to stabilize such enteric challenges can be achieved with a good combination of PFAs and probiotics.

It is crucial to understand the consequences of any AGP replacement strategy to be able to choose the right approach.

Anti-inflammatory effects

The anti-inflammatory effects of PFAs resulted in ‘AGP replacement strategy’ being the joint fourth most popular reason for use. Application of plant-derived active substances that counter inflammation avoid ‘wasted energy’, resulting in more energy being available for growth and performance.

In vitro studies with Digestarom® have demonstrated inhibition of the pro-inflammatory transcription factor NF-kB, counteracting inflammatory processes. It also promotes transactivation of the gut protection marker Nrf2, stimulating antioxidant enzyme expression.

Nutrient sparing

The use of PFAs for nutrient or energy sparing showed the largest relative increase in popularity as a motivation for inclusion in diets, being chosen by nearly twice as many respondents compared to the 2018 survey results.

The positive effects of PFAs have shown that it is often possible to slightly reduce inclusion of protein and total metabolizable energy while still achieving very good performance results. Also, because of the possibility to increase inclusion levels of ingredients with lower nutrient digestibility values, PFAs can be beneficial in lowering the costs of the feed while maintaining expected performance results.

Final product improvements

Application of PFAs can also improve the quality characteristics of farm outputs including meat, eggs and milk, delivering higher margins to producers. Trials have shown that Digestarom® improves meat quality parameters in broilers as well as grower and finishing pigs including color, tenderness, pH levels, and drip loss.

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. Comparative studies have shown that 1 ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted in the manufacture of Digestarom® yields an equivalent reduction in CO2 emissions of up to 128 tons in broiler production.

Field trials have proven that the inclusion of Digestarom® in feed enhances feed conversion, improves weight gain and contributes to a significant reduction in ammonia emissions in broilers, nursery pigs and grower and finishing pigs.

Good past experience

Nearly 16% of respondents cited good past experience with PFAs as a motivation for continued use. Ease of handling, consistency of results, and success in generating genuine return on investment are some of the factors that contribute to good experience with PFAs.

Used in combination with AGPs

Application of PFAs in combination with AGPs was also cited as a reason for use. The sensory properties of phytogenic substances improve the smell and taste of medicated feed.

Most plan to increase PFA use

68% of total respondents said their PFA use will increase over the next 12 months (Figure 9). In Latin America, 80% of respondents anticipated an increase in PFA use. Nearly a quarter of global respondents said use will stay the same (24%) and only 3% anticipated a decrease.

68% of respondents to the 2020 BIOMIN PFA survey expect an increase in PFA use.
Figure 9. Expectations for PFA use in the next 12 months, n = 295

Antibiotics trends

A plurality of respondents said that their aims for antibiotic use in the following 12 months was either for treatment only or for prevention and treatment purposes (multiple choices were allowed; Figure 10). A significant number selected antibiotic-free (19%) or ‘No Antibiotics Ever’ (NAE; 10%).

Most respondents to the 2020 BIOMIN PFA survey cite treatment only, or prevention and treatment as goals for antbiotic use.
Figure 10. Goals for antibiotic use among survey respondents, n = 626

This data supports the observed long-term trend towards elimination or limitation of antibiotics in food animal production, and the downward trend appears likely to continue. A large majority of respondents (58%) expected their use of antimicrobials to decrease in the following 12 months (Figure 11).

58% of respondents to the 2020 BIOMIN PFA survey expect antibiotic use to decrease in next 12 months.
Figure 11. Expectations for antibiotic use in the next 12 months, n = 541
  • The results of the 2020 BIOMIN® Phytogenic Feed Additive survey support continued growth and market expansion for this exciting range of products. The majority of respondents predicted that their use of PFAs would rise in the following 12 months, citing antimicrobial effect, digestibility enhancement and growth promotion as the top three motivations.

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