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Tough decision regarding feed additives

Dr Ioannis Mavromichalis
The business of nutritional supplements, or feed additives as they are widely known, remains a lucarative market for both their manufacturers and distributors. As a result most marketing and research efforts today are focused so heavily on additives that worldwide information transfer and scientific progress lag behind.

The business of nutritional supplements, or feed additives as they are widely known, remains a lucrative market for both their manufacturers and distributors because this is a low-volume, high-margin business.
As a result, most marketing and research efforts today are focused so heavily on additives that worldwide information transfer and scientific progress lag considerably behind.
With such a plethora of products and marketing material, pig producers are faced with a tough decision regarding which products to incorporate into their nutrition program. The answer is not so easy. When such additives are required to solve a crisis, for example a specific mycotoxin contamination in a batch of cereals, then the most efficacious product must be selected.
Under such conditions, price of product is secondary to its performance as results are quite obvious to the end user. However, most additives today are marketed with claims of improving animal performance - that is, growth rate and feed efficiency; something that is not always easy to validate. Such products should be selected based on the principle of return-on-investment, and never without first conducting several on-farm trials.
In my experience, products with documented claims of enhancing performance around 10% are usually worth considering. Otherwise, biological "noise" in most experimental designs is often too high to be able to validate lower claims on performance.
In addition, there are several principles that must be met before an additive is incorporated in a nutrition program. These include (1) biological relevance - that is, claims must make sense from a biological point of view, (2) well documented research that proves the concept - which must include controls and sufficient replications, and (3) ample evidence of practical application - that is, a product must work under diverse farm conditions.
In my experience, only a handful of additives meet these criteria today. Even so, the majority of available products offer such a small return on investment that their use is questionable at best. Without doubt, pig producers and their on-farm consultants rarely have the time to investigate all additives presented to them in an almost daily basis (hence, the heavy marketing in this segment of the business). In my (biased) opinion, this is an area where the feed and premix industries can offer a tremendous service to their clients. With their in-house technical personnel and research facilities, most major nutrition companies can easily screen and test the vast array of additives that exists today in the market offering only those that can markedly increase profitability under their client's farm-specific conditions.
In closing, when dealing with additives, it is imperative to keep in mind that not everything that shines is made of gold!

7 comments

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    drlihaitao@hotmail.com

    In my experience, not many feed additives can improve performance around 10%. How many feed additives you know can improve 10%? Thanks.

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    Ioannis Mavromichalis

    You are right! Additives that support such meaningful responses are just a handful...I can offer the following as examples: zinc oxide, copper sulfate, animal plasma, certain sources of hyperimmunized eggs, certain probiotics, a couple of organic acids under specific conditions. Of course it depends on how one defines additives and the conditions under which such products are used, as their effect is much reduced in high-health animals. In my experiences in USA and Europe, proper nutrition (balanced diets, ingredient selection, feed management, etc) can easily surpass the growth promoting properties of most commercial additives, under healthy conditions. Thanks for the feedback!

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    Larry Whetstone Canuk Sales

    One day the industry will understand the value of prebiotics addition to a monogastric animals' diet.
    The 'Natural' and 'Organic' meat producers will benefit
    the most with an enhanced production gained through fewer mortalities and improvement of average daily gain and feed to gain ratio.The increased costs of feed caused by the ethanol factor will mean a gut health management plan using prebiotics be placed in action soon in order to protect the required profit
    needed to stay in business.
    Reduced waste smell and handling are a free bonus
    provided when a prebiotic is included in the ration!

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    Dimitri

    10% is not an exception!
    Just an example. There is a scientific claim that 60% of standard vitamin E is excreted. What is your opinion on 40% (!) extra bioavaility of new form of vitamin E? (ref. Article of Mick Hazzledine, Premier Nutrition). Not 10, not 20. The claim of Adisseo is 40%!
    Can you believe in that?

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    Ioannis Mavromichalis

    Larry, although I am a proponent/user of prebiotic/probiotic concepts/products, I must caution our readers that not all products are equally effective. And, for many (including inulin that you have asked me about in an another blog) we have only limited meaningful information to draw any serious conclusions...

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    Ioannis Mavromichalis

    Even if the new vitamin E is 40% more bioavailable, which is tough to demonstrate, their prices are too high!

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    noni ward

    why do people need to use additives to make the pig grower quicker. In everything there seems to be some cheating going on and the pig industry seems to be no exception. Surely no additives would be better for their general performance and maturity than having them put in the feed.

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