SPECIAL EDITION: EARLY ANIMAL NUTRITION

AB Neo taking a 'fundamentally different' route to calf nutrition

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

AB Neo taking a 'fundamentally different' route to calf nutrition

Related tags Metabolism

AB Neo, a division of AB Agri that is focused on neonate performance, is extending its accelerator program, initially focused on piglets, to calves.

Its Axcelera-C product, which is based on the method of production and activation of a high lactose formulation containing milk and other ingredients, is being launched next month.

It replaces calf starter feed for the first three weeks and thereafter at 150g/head/day on top of starter feed.

And AB Neo, which only kicked off its operations in November 2014, said its accelerator program is proven, academically and commercially, to enhance lifetime output of cows. In beef cattle, the result is accelerated growth to slaughter and, in dairy, the accelerator program improve lifetime milk yield, longevity and fertility, said the firm.

“We have learned pre-weaning feed intake is no longer the measure. Optimizing neonatal nutrition is about switching on and preparing the animal’s metabolic systems,” ​says Ben Helm, commercial director of AB Neo.

The UK producer has been collaborating with leading expert in the field, Alex Bach, head of ruminant production program at IRTA in Barcelona, to prove the concept.

That research, said Helm, indicates Axcelera-C “enables faster growth and rumen development in calves through earlier solid feed intake – a factor which allows the farmer to wean the animal earlier.”

And he said on-farm trials in the UK showed the product is “aggressively consumed”​ by calves due its palatability.

He said the accelerator program is taking a “fundamentally different”​ route to improving calf nutrition to other new strategies that have been gaining traction recently, particularly those based on giving calves a higher plane of nutrition by feeding significantly higher levels of calf milk replacer in the first eight weeks of life.

Axcelera-C, he said, is a system where increased nutrition can be delivered without any risks of scouring or higher labor costs and also reduces growth check at weaning.

Mode of action not fully understood

But Helm said it is unclear exactly why Axcelera-C works as it does.

So Bach, he told FeedNavigator, is set to comprehensively investigate the mode of action of Axcelera-C next using fat tissue samples.

“IRTA is also undertaking additional research to see if we can improve growth performance in calves by having Axcelera-C replace starter feed for an extra week – over four rather than the current three week period,”​ said Helm.

In addition, he said, AB Neo has embarked on a research project with Bristol University to also confirm the mode of action of Axcelera-P, its accelerator for pigs.

That product is offered to piglets from day four to weaning - the firm said data indicate piglets grow much faster for the rest of their life and reach slaughter four days earlier or four kilos heavier as a result.

Helm said AB Neo collaborative research at Bristol University will evaluate the extent to which the early diet in piglets programs long-term changes in composition and function of intestinal microbiota – they will investigate to what extent does early-life diet influence the succession rather than short-term composition of microbial communities.

The animal nutrition scientists will also try and determine the degree to which the diet and microbiota program long-term effects on the developing metabolic system of the piglets, and see to how pathways involving breakdown, absorption and energy or protein or lipid metabolism are affected.

The team will also analyze the impact of diet, microbiota and metabolism in programming long-term effects on the piglet immune system.  

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