Christophe Paulus, global category manager for eubiotics at DSM, was speaking to FeedNavigator following the second installment of DSM’s focus group meeting on eubiotics - organic acids, essential oils, pre and probiotics - in China earlier this month.
“It was a good exchange – an opportunity to share insight and experiences. But the biggest surprise of the event was how much the gap in awareness of eubiotics between industry and academia and also between various regions globally has narrowed since our 2013 event. All countries are much more up to speed on the various product categories since then.
And we can see the quality of scientific data supporting eubiotics has improved significantly in the past two years,” said Paulus.
The gathering, which took place at DSM’s new animal nutrition research center in Hebei, included scientists, consultants and swine producers.
“We had a good mix. There was representation from Latin America, North America, Europe and a raft of Asian countries from the Philippines to Korea to China.
The attendees comprised 25 of our customers, six leading researchers and a veterinary consultant, and the agenda consisted of academic presentations followed by Q&A sessions,” he said.
International research into natural substitutes for antibiotics in livestock production has come top of the agenda in many countries in recent years as societal and political concerns over antimicrobial resistance in both animals and humans increases - there is growing pressure to reduce the use of antibiotics in farmed animals.
And, said Paulus, there have been a lot of studies carried out into improving the gut health of nursery and grow-finish pigs, given the fact that the swine sector is a major user of antibiotics.
The DSM event saw Dr John Pluske, from Murdoch University in Australia, discuss the effects of dietary anti-inflammatory products and minerals on gut health in nursery and grow-finish pigs, and Professor Wouter Hendriks, from Wageningen University, speak about fiber nutrition in swine in terms of energy yield and links to gut health.
Dr Mauricio Dutra, from Carthage and MHJ Agritech Consulting, gave insights into supportive therapy for PED in swine units based on experience from the US and China.
Paulus said the eubiotics meeting also showed that the quality of available raw materials and the type of feed and management program in place all determine the level of risk in a swine production model.
And he said it was very clear to all attendees at the DSM event that there is no 1:1 replacement for antibiotics in swine production: “But we see that producers globally are willing to learn about the potential role a combination of natural alternatives can play in supporting a migration away from antibiotics in animal husbandry.”
Organic acids, he continued, are now well accepted with global recognition of their efficiency in piglets. He acknowledged that there is more productivity variation in relation to the use of essential oils, and pro and prebiotics in swine.
“Some of the key learnings at the event were that pig producers need to manage their expectations around probiotics - they want to see a performance benefit but that is not so clear cut when using probiotics. It is important to know when to include them in a pig’s diet, what to expect from them and to understand the role they play in maintaining gut health,” said Paulus.
There is now greater understanding of the mode of action of essential oils though, he said.
Their benefit on feed intake and their antimicrobial properties have been confirmed by trial work, but essential oils should be combined with a good organic acid to enhance their efficacy, said the DSM representative.
Delegates, he said, heard how prebiotics can support the sow during gestation by adding more fiber to the animal’s diet and ensuring fewer problems with constipation.
“Also stressed at the meeting was the ongoing need for good supporting data behind individual products in each eubiotics category – one probiotic is very different from another,” said the DSM expert.
There was also a lot of debate on the topic of gut health measurement and how to find biomarkers indicators, said Paulus. “This subject generated a lot of controversy with some attendees saying the development of measurement biomarkers in this regard was not feasible. In terms of how to move research on gut health measurement forward, the attendees agreed a lot more investment of time and money was needed to ensure greater headway is made."