Feed additives: A tool for sustainable animal production

22-10-2020 | |
Photo: Olha Rohulya
Photo: Olha Rohulya

The world’s population is increasing and by 2025 it will reach over 9 billion. The challenge the livestock industry faces is how to produce more sustainably whilst raising animals according to higher societal demands regarding animal health and environmental pressure. Feed additives can be a key tool in terms of sustainable development.

New eating habits, new demands, consumers are questioning agricultural production models. In 2017, for example, the petition to ban the use of glyphosate in Europe collected 1.3 million signatures, which clearly demonstrates the growing interest of the population to better understand and contribute to the development of more respectful agricultural practices for the planet. At the same time, the world’s population is growing and will reach over 9 billion in 2025. The demand for protein is constantly increasing. The recent publication of the Green Pact is the latest European step towards sustainable agriculture.

How can we produce enough sustainably?

This is the new challenge for agriculture. From now on, it will be necessary to combine environmental, economic and societal performance. Reducing the carbon footprint, knowing the origin of products, preserving consumer health, improving animal welfare, these are no longer just trends, but new areas of development for the animal production sector. By offering benefits in line with these expectations, feed additives are innovative solutions that will accompany tomorrow’s animal husbandry.

Sustainable production models

The publication from last May about the Green Pact with its strategy ”from farm to fork” revealed an ambitious economic and ecological policy aimed at promoting the development of healthier food, a sustainable development for agriculture with a first milestone set for 2030. The strategy thus sets out 27 axes aimed at transforming the current food production system in the years to come, targeting the entire food chain from primary agricultural production to the final consumer.

For the animal sectors, certain areas will have a direct impact on practices, in particular:

  • A reduction of at least 20% in the use of fertilisers, including environmental discharges from animal production
  • A 50% reduction in sales of antimicrobials used in farmed animals and aquaculture
  • 25% of agricultural land in organic farming (compared to 8% at present)
  • Improvement of animal welfare in all stages of animal production, through regulations also covering the transport and slaughter of animals.
  • The development of sustainable aquaculture
  • A reduction in food waste (20% of food is currently thrown away in Europe)

Why do feed additives provide a solution to sustainable development?

Europe is not alone in integrating this crucial issue of a growing population with limited resources into its policy. It is a global challenge. Therefore, in view of these new economic policies and the increasingly pressing societal expectations, additives based on active ingredients and plant extracts will be one of the key tools for meeting tomorrow’s environmental challenges and the societal expectations of consumers in terms of sustainable development. With a global approach based on the Better-Being of the animal in breeding and the knowledge of various active ingredients, Phodé has developed a range of solutions adapted to the new challenges of sustainability and well-being in breeding.

Sustainable and ethical development

Breeding conditions, transport, slaughter: all the links in the chain are taken into consideration to improve the welfare of livestock. The means implemented are evolving and, in addition to the obligation of means, behavioural criteria are appearing which aim to qualify welfare in other ways than by square meters. Livestock must be able to express the most natural behaviour possible in order to come as close as possible to their production potential. Reducing the stress factors present in animal husbandry or giving the animal the means to free itself from them is an interesting lever. By adding a mixture of specific active ingredients with anti-stress properties like VeO to the diet, excellent results have been observed in cattle, pigs and poultry. Recently, a university trial has observed a more rapid adaptation of the behaviour of dairy cows subjected to social stress that is inseparable from conventional or organic milk production: group change.

Reducing the use of drugs

Demedication is a theme correlated with sustainable farming methods. The fight against antibiotic resistance is the example that comes to the forefront of people’s minds, but more broadly, the reduction in the use of medicines is a key societal issue. Several levers of action are available to ensure that demedication and good general health coincide:

  • Biosecurity measures
  • Overall health status (vaccination plan, etc.)
  • Reinforcement of the animal’s defences

Additives based on active ingredients known for their anti-inflammatory properties, such as curcumin, provide excellent support, as demonstrated by the results observed with Force 6 in an experimental trial on Ross 308 chickens (Table 1).

Management of environmental discharges

The management of environmental discharges is one of the key elements of sustainable development. Today, in Europe, it is estimated that 10.3% of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, methane and nitrous oxide) come from agriculture, 70% of which is from the animal sector. Nitrogen and phosphorus discharges are also covered by new regulations. Livestock farming will therefore have to contribute to the collective effort while maintaining a satisfactory economic performance for the farmer. It is this sustainable development approach, virtuous and balanced between reducing waste, maintaining agricultural incomes and increasing world production that must be resolved. Depending on the country, the regulation of waste is based on a different approach:

  • Limiting the amount of releases produced per farm
  • Reduction in the number of animals
  • Restriction of inputs in ingested rations

Whatever the approach, the addition of a specific blend of plant extracts like Oleobiotec optimising feed efficiency provides an answer:

  • By reducing the amount of waste
  • By increasing individual production per animal
  • By improving the protein efficiency of a feed ration

Modern animal husbandry must evolve its practices towards greater sustainability by integrating new criteria that are not necessarily economic. The success of this challenge will not only be conditioned by the addition of feed additives, however, they offer a measurable response to the new challenges of sustainability.

References are available on request


Technical and marketing department Phodé Animal Care

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