InVivo NSA has officially launched its prestarter piglet feed brands during the last VIV Europe held in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Pig Progress was invited to have a look behind the scenes of this product at the specialised feed plant in Loudéac (Britanny) and its research centres in Saint-Nolff and Château-Thierry.
By Philippe Caldier
In Loudéac, we are welcomed by Guillaume Hannotiaux, the industrial director of the feed plant, and by Philippe Mazerolles, technical and marketing director of the international Premix and Specialties division of InVivo NSA. “This plant started in 1976 and has been specialised in piglet feed since 1977,” says Hannotiaux. A first new tower of 27 metres was built in 1987 for premix and minerals dosage, followed by a second tower in 1990 for the piglet feed. We are in one of the three French specialised piglet feed plants of the group, the two other plants are located in Questembert (Britanny) and Argentan (Normandy), plus another plant in Madrid (Spain). All these specialised units have an annual production of 6 to 12,000 tonnes piglet feed/year (6,000 tonnes for Argentan, 7,000 tonnes for Questembert and Madrid, 12,000 tonnes for Loudéac). The Loudéac plant has been completely automatised in 2004 and works in two teams of eight hours. It received the ISO 9001 certification in 1996 and the GMP certification two years ago.
The Loudéac plant produces feed for all the European markets and only for piglets (Table 1). “There is a strict schedule of conditions in the supply of raw materials,” explains Hannotiaux at the beginning of our visit. For example, Table 2 shows the specificities of Youpig wheat compared to standard wheat regarding specific weight, impurities, broken grains and moisture. The larger number of silos (cellules) compared to a classic feed plant brings more flexibility in the raw material choices such as for cooked cereals (wheat, barley, maize), biscuits, or diversified milk serum powders. “Young animals need to have higher levels of lactose,” says Mazerolles. “We use up to 80 raw materials and from the very beginning we have decided to buy non-GMO raw materials,” adds the plant director. For instance, soya is bought in the south of France.
The plant management is based on gravity to avoid cross contaminations during the different steps of feed processing. Raw materials are pre-grinded before being dosed in order to improve the granulometry of the feed and to avoid big particles. “Grinding is a key step in piglet feed,” says Mazerolles who also adds that the grinder uses grids of 1.5 mm. The plant counts five weighing hoppers of which one is for macro elements (3 tonnes), and three for raw materials added manually as additives or premixes (a specific dumpster is only for medicinal premixes). The two press lines are respectively dedicated to Youpig Baby (with a very short conditioner to limit the contact between stream and feed, a speed of 2 to 4 tonnes/h and a final diameter of feed of 1.6 mm) and to Youpig 21 and Youpig 28 (with a longer conditioner, a speed of 6 tonnes/h and a final diameter of 2.2 mm). “Pelleting is also a key step of the piglet feed processing as it’s hard to do pellets which are tender and stable at the same time,” adds Hannotiaux. Daily controls are done in Loudéac to control pellet durability. “We have reached a good balance in our receipts which are stable,” concludes the plant director who estimates that the industrial know-how is essential in piglet feed. “Youpig is a federating brand which will progressively replace the existing brands in the different markets,” says Mazerolles, and that a colour code of the bags will help clients to recognise the different feeds.
Saint-Nolff, located 10 km north-east of Vannes (Brittany), is also the location of InVivo NSA headquarters and of one of the two scientific research centres owned by the group in France. At the same location, you also find the Laréal laboratory, one of the most important for the country with operations from feed to food. “With 12 applied research stations all over the world (in France, Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, India), and 130 nutrition experts including 25 scientists, InVivo NSA Research & Development has a significant and differentiating asset,” explains Mazerolles who welcomes us in Saint-Nolff with Samuel Eon, pig technical support for the International Premix and Specialties division of InVivo NSA. We start our visit with the roosters building. “For decades, roosters have been a model of digestibility for monogastrics and pets,” explains Cécile Picart, pigs and poultry research engineer for InVivo NSA. A total of 96 roosters are reared in four rooms, and the goal of this building is to test and qualify special raw materials for piglets such as proteic concentrate of soya from Brazil. “In cages, analyses are more discriminating,” comments Picart who adds that these trials help to build a formulation matrix used internally. A five minute walk further in the wooded station, we find another building dedicated to piglets. It consists of 12 individual digestibility cages for piglets. After ten days of adaptation, trials are managed during three days to test the digestibility of raw materials or feed. Faeces and urine are collected separately during the trials. A bit further, we visit another building dedicated to nutritional trials for piglets and fattening pigs. On the piglet side, there are three rooms with 16 boxes, with six to eight piglets/box, and two rooms with 10 boxes on the fattening pigs side. “In this building we can test up to eight different feeds on the same group of pigs,” explains Picart.
Appetite trials for additives or trials on alternatives to antibiotics in challenging conditions are often done here. “Pigs are managed under controlled conditions, close to farming conditions,” says Samuel Eon. Individual measures can also be done on faeces to measure flora ratio (diarrhoea is not always visible) or on blood to measure inflammation markers. All the feed consumption is measured during the trials, including the non consumed feed collected by a vacuum cleaner.
“With this building, you are able to measure the back effects of a feed from the piglets to the slaughter,” says Mazerolles. During our visit, some trials were in process to study the level and the nature of different fibres and also different flavours.
Three feeding and housing systems
The CRZA research centre in Château-Thierry is located about 100 km east of Paris and is the headquarters of Inzo.
We find part of the international team of InVivo NSA premix and specialties here, a premix plant (about 15,000 tonnes produced/ year) and a laboratory working in synergy with Laréal in Saint-Nolff. In 1970 the CRZA research centre was founded and is dedicated to many species including rabbits, calves, dairy cows, sheep, poultry and pigs. This experimental centre consists of a unit of 100 sows which are managed in groups of 15 sows every three weeks. “The main goal of this sow unit is to provide piglets for feed trials,” explains Arnaud Cousin, who is in charge of the research centre and is accompanied by Szilvia Sandor, Eastern Europe Coordinator for InVivo NSA International Premix & Specialties.
The pig experimental unit in Château-Thierry has two buildings: one with three rooms which have 32 boxes each for four weaned piglets/box at 28 days of age. Feed trials are done between 28 and 70 days of age but can be shorter than this six week interval.
The piglets are weighed at the beginning and at the end of the trials, and the feed consumption of each box is registered.
“Our goal is to try to keep only the feed effect and we also do faeces analyses depending on trials”, adds Cousin. One of the particularities of this post weaning unit is a gutter system under the pigs with a water flushing twice a day, which improves the air quality and the comfort of the pigs. In the second experimental building, fattening pigs are distributed among three different feeding and housing systems.
In a first room (eight boxes with nine pigs), pigs are housed in groups and fed with a dry feed automatic distributor which allows to measure the feed behaviour of each animal (number and frequency of meals, quantity of feed taken/meal...). In a second room, pigs are collectively housed and fed with two different soup machines, which is closer to the farming conditions. In two other rooms (56 pigs/room), pigs are individually housed and fed (ad libitum or limited feeding). “With this individual housing, we can do more measures,” says Cousin, who adds that pigs can also be followed until the slaughterhouse.
“Our technical and marketing division is the crossroads of information coming from all our teams all over the world,” says Philippe Mazerolles whose actual priority it is to try to centralise and coordinate all these data with Samuel Eon.
It started in Utrecht during the VIV, and the idea of international research and development committees will go on in concrete terms in Rennes during the next Space with exchanges on the possible research topics to be started by various countries (Hungary, Italy, Czech Republic, Brazil, Romania, etc). This new international strategy regarding research and development is already about to start in Vietnam with pig trials planned for the end of this year. “We need to cement relationships within our group and to find synergies between the different feed specialists and know-how we have in our different feed or premix plants,” concludes Mazerolles, who was about to travel to Mexico after the interview. “We need to have well thought and coordinated exchanges,” says Szilvia Sandor who has over two years built a successful partnership between InVivo NSA and the Hungarian feed company Vitafort.
Three businesses in synergy
InVivo NSA is the strong new link in a powerful and diversified international group, InVivo.
The No.1 agricultural cooperative group in France, InVivo works in four fields: seeds and agricultural supplies, animal nutrition and health, grain storage and trading, distribution to professionnals and the public. InVivo Group’s turnover at 30 June 2009 was €5 billion.
With 5,000 employees all over the world, InVivo NSA has an annual turnover of €1.4 billion with three businesses in synergy: SBlt Complete feed (66% of the turnover): nearly 3 million tonnes of feed produced a year under the strong brand Evialis. 60 production units in France, Spain, Poland, Belgium, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil and South AfricaSBlt Premix and specialties (24% of the turnover): Inzo, SFPS in France and international subsidiaries. French leader in premixes, mineral supplements, nutritional specialties and salt licks, 15 million tonnes of reconstituted feed from Group premixes, exporting in more than 50 countries, subsidiaries in Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, Brazil, China, Russia, South Africa, India and Myanmar.SBlt Animal health and hygiene (10% of the turnover): Franvet, Noé and their subsidiaries, French leader in medicated premixes, portfolio of 200 marketing authorisations, five production units conforming to BPF standards, products marketed in 25 countries.
Source: Pig Progress magazine Volume 26. no. 6