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Phytogenic feed additives for sustainable poultry 

The steadily growing and prospering world population and the associated increase of 
meat consumption will prospectively challenge nutritionists and scientists all over the world. The task at hand is to promote production 
output in a sustainable way. Phytogenic feed additives help farmers stay profitable and reduce environmental emissions.

By Martin Brötel, Delacon Austria

According to the United Nations, the earth’s population will reach about nine billion in 2050. The challenge now is to meet the requirements of the food industry for meat. Moreover, peoples’ concern about safety and food quality is fuelled by scandals such as resistance of bacteria towards antibiotics. Hence the international feed and husbandry industry is constrained to provide sustainable global livestock production strategies for efficient production and safe food for all consumers.

Poultry production represents the 
most rapidly growing sector of the highly globalised animal husbandry industry due the high feed conversion ratio and only a few cultural constraints of eating habits compared to other livestock meats. The rising environmental burden has also to be kept in mind as a growth in feed production is always associated with raised CO2, methane and nitrous oxide emissions.

Sophisticated responsibility

Farmers worldwide represent an initial position in the supply chain, having their main function in providing food, respectively raw materials for food-production- a clear, but at the same time extremely sophisticated responsibility. Currently, about one billion people are starving, and the situation will even get worse, with an increasing population and the new eating habits of emerging countries. The new middle class of Asia, Latin America and Africa demand more meat which in turn strains five to eight times the amount of arable land to satisfy human demand, compared to a cereal meal. Moreover, food supply is complicated by competition, such as crop farming as an alternative fuel source, which is highly conducted in the US, Europe, Latin America and parts of Asia.

At the same time, agriculture itself is threatened by urbanisation, climate change, looming water scarcity, erosion and soil salination. Consequently, there is only one name of the game we have to go for: efficiency! Efficiencies in harvesting as well as in animal production have to rise obviously, but under the consideration of sustainability. Environment, drinkable water, climate and biodiversity have to be spared from over standing. Rising meat production costs due to increased energy prices substantiate the necessity of efficiency yet again.

Green revolution
According to experts, only new technologies and genetic improvements may lead to more efficiency in agriculture in the long term. Improved feed conversion ratios in livestock feeding would relieve arable land, showing high potential, as today above one third of the farmland is covered with feed crops, a tendency which is rising. In general, there are still a lot of strategies in poultry production to enhance feed conversion and to decrease emissions. Principally, excellent farm management is the key to success. Feed rations have to be optimised by choosing the right raw materials according to local availability and price.

Beyond various factors such as grain size, pellet quality, nutrient contents etc. feed additives have been able to substantially up-value poultry rations for years. Delacon is successfully dedicated to phytogenic feed additives (PFA) for more than two decades now, and has emerged from a pioneer in a niche market to a global leader in the mainstream, being the first and only company with a zootechnical registration by the EU for its phytogenic feed additive. Especially since the ban of antibiotic growth promoters in the European Union in 2006, PFAs have been gaining considerable attention in livestock feeding.

With rising feed costs, animal producers and feed mills are looking into solutions to optimise performance and increase the digestibility of nutrients. Phytogenic feed additives help farmers stay profitable whilst at the same time, reduce environmental emissions. Increasing nutrient digestibility hence improving feed conversion ratio is resulting in a reduction of feed costs up to 4%, all naturally! Emissions can be lowered by PFAs as well, leading to a reduction of NH3 up to 40% through saponines, which inhibit urease activity. The product Biostrong 510, a PFA consisting of essential oils and selected herbal substances, combines benefits like improved performance as well as an advanced barn climate and reduced odour. Phytogenic feed additives sustainably improve animal performance and reduce emissions in livestock production in the course of a new green revolution.



Interview: Jan Dirk Van Der Klis

Controlling feed costs will need constant focus, due to increasing feed ingredient prices. But new challenges are on the horizon. Dr Jan Dirk van der Klis, an expert in poultry nutrition joined Delacon as Species Leader for poultry products to meet the challenges. He gives an insight into his visions for the future development of poultry production.

What motivated you to change your professional focus from a research institution to a phytogenic feed additive manufacturer like Delacon?
“Since the start of my career I have worked in poultry nutrition. As an employee of several independent research institutes in the Netherlands, part of my job was testing the efficacy of feed additives in their final stage of development, and for the purposes of registration. My involvement in the early stages of product development was extremely limited, for proprietary reasons. But I was always interested in becoming more involved in early product development and trying to find poultry production solutions for customers. I am looking forward to my new responsibilities at Delacon, and to being involved in every stage of product development and technical support.”

What challenges do you see for the global poultry industry in the near future? Do you think phytogenics can help overcome them?
“It is evident that the efficiency of broiler production has increased substantially over the last 25 years. Diets have become more concentrated, to support the full genetic potential of birds in production. Increased feed intake and growth potential now challenge the digestive system, and reduce the resilience of the birds. Other developments like the ban on animal 
proteins and antimicrobial growth promoters, had a significant impact on poultry production.
New challenges are on the horizon, such as the possible ban on coccidiostats. Of course controlling feed costs will remain 
of utmost importance, due to increasing feed ingredient prices. Consumer perception is strongly focused not only on food safety but also on animal welfare. Changes in European production and regulation are often adopted globally. So over time customers everywhere will focus increasingly on feed supplements with a green image. Phytogenics definitely fall into this category and I foresee a bright future for phytogenic products.”

What will be your main focus at Delacon?
“During my employment at Schothorst Feed Research in the Netherlands I was in close contact with nutritionists at feed mills worldwide. I consulted them on poultry feed formulation and nutrition. My focus was on feedstuffs and optimising 
dietary nutrient composition to optimise performance within certain production constraints. Joining the Delacon team, I will be focused on these questions from a feed additive point of view; seeking new insights in efficiently stimulating nutrient digestion, improving feed efficiency and animal health. I will also be leading the development of the new products demanded by customers to improve their poultry production.”


  • Phytogenic feed additives for sustainable poultry 
    Photo: Delacon

Martin Brötel

One comment

  • Nadir Alloui

    Our ancestors have always used plants to treat diseases, but empirically. Today there is a lot of research on PFAs in animal nutrtion. Some PFAs have proven effective even against pathogens (Salmonella, Coccidiosis ... etc). Of course they also improve production performance (FC, Weight ....). Indeed, it is the green revolution even in the animal industry!

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