A good part of my daily workload as a consulting nutritionist is reviewing feed formulas. Although the nutrient specifications matrix and ingredient minimum-maximum section
appears to be of highest concern to nutritionists, when it comes to additives, the highest
interest is shown by the 'boss', being either the CEO or the pig producer personally. Below is a brief description of what I believe many pig formulas 'suffer' from when it comes to additives.
This is the most common problem and one that is encountered mostly with non-regulated feed additives, such as a mycotoxin binder. While this is perfectly fine when the additive in question is relatively inexpensive (such as zeolite), it certainly becomes problematic when it is very expensive (such as plasma).
2. Too many additives
Piglet formulas are often overburdened with numerous additives for many reasons: (1) for security, (2) to enhance feed intake, and (3)for marketing reasons. Although some
additives are valid and needed, there is a point where there are too many of them.
3. Duplicate additives
This is a variation of the above issue but it is so common it deserves its own 'spotlight'.
Take for example a piglet diet in the USA where growth-promoting antimicrobial agents are (still) allowed. In this case, it is rather difficult to justify the use of other growth-promoting agents.
4. Wrong additives
An example here could be using organic acids to make the feed more palatable. Although this is not impossible, it is not the most efficient or most economic way to achieve this goal.
5. Brand selection
This is not so much a problem per se but rather a personal decision to be made by those
responsible for nutrition in each organisation.
6. Forgotten additives
Another common problem. For example, using here a real-case scenario, sometime in the past a mycotoxin binder was added to address a problem in imported wheat. Several
months later, and having switched to national wheat with no such problem, the piglet
formula still contained the same mycotoxin binder.
At the end, what to do?
The best way to keep cost down when it comes to additives is to be constantly alert on the additives currently used in a formula. Their cost must be always justified in terms of return on-investment and their presence should be periodically questioned. Not only additives become redundant when the problem they face ceases to exist but also, new additives (more effective or less expensive) always appear in the market. The key word is vigilance.