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World Nutrition Forum: The future starts now

“Achieving peak performance” was the theme of this year's World Nutrition Forum. Organised by Biomin, this event brought together emerging topics and international feed professionals in Mayrhofen, Austria. The fresh mountain air certainly encouraged lively discussions on how we can achieve higher and healthier performance over the next 25 years.

By Emmy Koeleman

"We have come a long way," said Erich Erber, founder of Biomin in his opening speech. "We are now celebrating our 25th anniversary, but it's more important to look at the 25 years to come." There is more to do, especially in current times where issues such as the price of feedstuffs, the world population, as well as consumer issues are affecting business.

Osler Desouzart from OD Consulting in Brazil elaborated further on this topic in his talk entitled "supply and demand for feed – how will we master the future?" He said that the agricultural industry has to prepare to follow the wishes of consumers, and explained this by comparing macrotrends from the past 30 years with the ones for the next 30 years. Cutting costs, for example, have been the focus up till now. According to Desouzart, this trend will be approached by "creating value" in the future. This may include more niche products, for example, which are sold for higher prices. The coming 30 years will also lean more towards healthy animal production instead of solely having high productivity as the main goal. "We are also in a major transition phase when it comes to the location where animals are produced," said Desouzart.

Over the past decades, animal protein was primarily produced in Europe, the US and Japan. In the future, animal products will come more from Asian, African and Latin American countries. Water consumption will be another important issue for the future, addressed Desouzart, pointing out that 5,900 litres of water are needed to produce 1 kg of pork. To produce 1 kg of poultry, 2,828 litres of water are consumed. Beef production is the worst, whereby an average of 16,000 litres to produce one kg of beef is necessary.

Trends in poultry production

Randy Mitchell from Perdue farms in the US also looked to the future and gave an overview on the poultry industry trends in North America. "In today's global marketplace, competitors are harder to identify, and consumers are more selective than ever," Mitchell said. He explained that the future success of the poultry industry depends on its ability to improve efficiency, navigate changes in the regulatory environment, and meet demands of consumers and society in general. He agreed with Desouzart in saying that we have to prepare to follow these demands.

On the second day of the symposium, Biomin's Franz Waxenecker opened the morning session with a talk on improving the health status of livestock. He explained the Red Queen principle, which is a concept raised in Alice in Wonderland. ‘It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place’ he quoted, before going on to explain how this applies to the world of animal nutrition, and in particular gut health. Without antibiotic growth promoters, he said, enteropathogens have huge privileges. This problem becomes even more significant knowing that coccidiostats will probably be banned in the EU from 2012 onwards.

Fighting poultry pathogens

Richard Ducatelle from Ghent University in Belgium further ellaborated on the complex interaction between feed, gut microbiota, and the host animal. "The future for improving gut health through feed additives probably lies in the administration through feed of quorum sensing-like molecules that are perceived by the beneficial microbiota components as positive signals, and by the harmful bacteria as a stop signal," he explained.

Ducatelle named coated butyric acid as a pioneer compound in this regard, since it was shown that butyric acid in a concentration far below the MIC value can specifically suppress the major virulence mechanism (SPI-1 expression) in Salmonella (Gantois et al., 2006). Moreover, butyric acid can protect chicken enterocytes from Campylobacter invasion (Van Deun et al., 2008), thus limiting the bacterial colonisation ability (Van Deun et al., 2008). It can also decrease the severity of necrotic enteritis caused by C. perfringens in an experimental setup (Timbermont et al., unpublished). "These three pathogens are currently of major importance in the broiler industry, and thus butyric acid can potentially aid in controlling all of them at the same time. However, the practical way on how to stimulate proliferation of the butyric acid producing microbiota is still under research" he addressed.

Phytogenic concepts

When talking about changes in agriculture and animal production we also look at different feed ingredients and diet formulation. Biomin's approach clearly recognises this as the company focuses on a natural approach. Plant extracts (phytogenics), for example, are ingredients that match this philosophy and are therefore extensively researched for application in animal diets. The potential benefits of using phytogenics in livestock nutrition include increased feed intake, stimulation of digestion, increased growth performance, reduced incidence of diarrhoea, increased performance parameters, improved reproductive parameters, and improved feed efficiency, and therefore higher profitability.

Dr Ilias Giannenas from the University of Thessaly in Greece gave some more insight into the use of plant extracts and phytogenics in animal diets. He explained that phytogenics can affect the intestinal microflora through a prebiotic effect, although effects on animal performance vary considerably. "One of the major challenges is the standardisation of the products. More studies are needed, however, to maximise the benefits derived from plant extracts," said Giannenas.

Mycotoxin solutions

During a panel discussion on mycotoxins in animal feed, Isabelle Oswald from INRA in France explained that besides the well known mycotoxins, "emerging" mycotoxins (produced by Fusarium species) are on the lure. Fusarium species seem to produce compounds with different chemical structures such as Fusarin C, beauvericin, enniatins, moniliformin. However, data on toxicity, occurrence and contamination levels of the others metabolites of Fusarium spp are limited. She concluded in saying that the toxicological data available concern mainly toxin taken individually and that there is very little data on toxicological effects resulting from the association of mycotoxins.

Environmental concerns

Considerable attention was also paid to the environmental impact of intensive animal production systems. At the symposium, the importance of this issue was also seen as Biomin chose to avoid plastic delegates' bags and handed out recycled paper bags with the proceedings. To explain how the agricultural sector can contribute, Biomin invited Wilhelm Windisch from BOKU in Austria. He explained that the problem lies in an inefficient transformation of minerals (zinc, copper, and phosphorus) from feed into products (milk, meat, eggs). The major reasons are an insufficient quality of dietary components (protein, phosphorus) as well as dietary excess (protein, phosphorus), partially at extremely high and physiologically inadequate levels. Windisch said that more knowledge of the actual nutrient requirement of the animals during each step of the production cycle is needed, as well as adequate information on the nutritive value of the feed currently consumed by the animal.

The next World Nutrition Forum will be held in 2010 in Salzburg, Austria.

World Nutrition Forum Awards 2008
The Biomin Research and Innovation Network (B.R.A.I.N.) is a programme created to support young and highly skilled scientists. The aim is to fund interesting research projects in the area of animal nutrition, animal health, natural growth promotion, feed-microbiology and biotechnology, mycotoxins, feed hygiene and preservation, as well as undesirable substances. During the symposium, this programme awarded Kostas Mountzouris from the Department of Nutritional Physiology & Feeding, Agricultural University of Athens, Greece, with the B.R.A.I.N. award based on his research paper "Assessment of the efficacy for growth promotion and optimum inclusion level of a multi-species probiotic in broiler nutrition". Biomin also awarded two posters from I. Vacaru-Opris from the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, Iasi, Romania, entitled "Influence of acidifiers on chicken broilers health status and performance", and P. Dilkin from the Departamento de Medicina Veterinaria Preventiva, Laboratorio de Analisis Micotoxicologicas, Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, Brazil, entilted "Efficiency of Mycofix® Plus to reduce the toxic effects of Zearalenone added to swine diets".

World Poultry, Vol. 25 No. 2


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