‘The Phileo Farm’ was opened in June in Seysses, near Toulouse in France, to enable the yeast and probiotics producer to “respond to market demand through innovation”.
The facility brings together in a single location both the animals and the analytical and laboratory equipment needed to advance new solutions in areas such as intestinal health, improving digestibility, combating toxins in animal feed and antibiotic alternatives.
“The Farm is a platform for knowledge transfer and scientific expertise to develop innovative solutions to meet the ethical, health and performance challenges facing the industry,” said Jean-Philippe Marden, director of The Phileo Farm.
Improving digestibility of feed
Dr Marden told this publication that scientists at the center were already working on improving the bioavailability of nutritionally poor ruminant feed sources such as rice straw, which are used in some regions to reduce feed costs.
“We are investigating a two-pronged approach involving enzymes and our Actisaf yeast to improve the nutritional performance of difficult-to-use feed sources.
“We are treating the fiber with enzymes that break it down before it is inside the animal, and with other products - enzymes and yeast - that can withstand higher temperatures and help the microbes inside the stomach to digest the feed,” explained Dr Marden.
He said the researchers were currently screening different combinations of yeast and enzymes in vitro at the center, which is equipped with dual flow systems which imitate the rumen activity.
The next step would be to carry out trials with animals, most likely in China, said Dr Marden.
Another project underway at The Farm is to identify yeast fractions that can modify the structure of mycotoxins via a detoxification process.
The company already markets Safmannan - a prebiotic yeast - as a solution for countering mycotoxin in feed. However, it works by binding mycotoxins, which has its limitations.
“Safmannan binds some mycotoxins, but others are difficult to bind, and it does this by detoxifying the animal, rather than the mycotoxins. That is why we are looking for living organisms that can modify the chemical structure to degrade without any harm to the animal. Safmannan will be part of the solution,” said Dr Marden.
This project too is in the screening phase; working together with the University of Aberystwyth, Phileo scientists are identifying susceptible organisms.
At The Farm, a laboratory equipped with UPLC (Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography) is devoted to the detection of mycotoxins, enabling Phileo to measure its products’ effectiveness in controlling these contaminants.
A third focus area is improving the intestinal health of animals.
“By acting on all organisms living in the intestinal tract, probiotics such as Actisaf help to combat stress and maintain good overall intestinal health. This helps to improve overall performance, with better growth and better production at lower cost,” said Dr Marden.
In addition, he said Phileo was investigating whether diarrhea in young calves could be solved with yeast and yeast-derived products.
Lastly, The Farm is looking at how enzymes, pre-and probiotics can be effective against certain animal diseases, thereby reducing reliance on antibiotics.
“For example, Actisaf lowers the incidence of E. coli bacteria in piglets, and yeast beta-glucans can significantly reduce mastitis problems in dairy cows,” said Dr Marden.
As important as developing solutions is showing farmers how to use these products, if they are to replicate in real life the results that are reported in academic research, according to Dr Marden.
“We need to advise farmers on how to use pre- and probiotics, when to use them and how much to use,” he said.
This knowledge transfer will be a key aspect of The Farm’s work, he said.
“We will invite customers to seminars to discover the latest advances in research and technology, to see and confirm the benefits of our products, or to train in our techniques so they can benefit from them,” he explained.