The winner, selected by an expert jury, was announced at the French livestock show, SPACE, in Rennes last month.
Karthivashan Govindarajan’s PhD thesis, which explored the nutritional role of Moringa oleifera extracts on broilers, took the honors.
Although there is a long history of use in relation to plant extracts and animal health, there has been limited academic research on the subject, said Nor Feed.
“Plant characterization studies are scarce - based on a review of the titles of French veterinary theses over the past few years, we estimated that scientific publications related to plant extracts and animal health represented 1% of those dissertations,” said company CEO, Olivier Clech, when we met up with him at SPACE. “So the breadth and depth of the award submissions was staggering.”
Nor Feed received 26 eligible applications spanning four continents, with theses submitted from Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tunisia, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Spain, France, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia, Brazil and Peru.
Pierre Chicoteau, founder and manager of Nor-Feed, added: "We promoted the award heavily on social media. Nevertheless, we were really surprised by the diversity of the represented territories, the studied plants and the wide variety of their application in animal health and nutrition.”
Govindarajan’s thesis, which was conducted in collaboration with a team based at the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), identified the role of the active compounds of Moringa oleifera extracts on the production performance and quality of poultry meat, through improving the antioxidant status of the birds.
One of the goals of the award scheme is for Nor Feed to identify relevant projects in order to build and support scientific partnerships. The Angers based plant extracts company said some of its products are the result of such collaboration between it, universities and industry.
Nor Feed, said Clech, has an annual turnover of €5m and double digit growth YOY. Its expansion strategy includes the goal of extending its footprint globally.
Clech said the plant extracts producer often enters new markets through business partnerships: “Our partners can be companies, agents, distributors. It is always a question of whether we can establish a relationship with them, of whether we have complementary schemes, resources and networks."
Nor Feed, which has a subsidiary in Algeria, has also been active in Asian for a number of years with a presence in the Philippines, South Korean, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan.
The firm has not yet entered China claiming it is unwieldy in terms of scale and that it has not yet nailed down a collaborator there. “Taiwan, on the other hand, is developing quite well for us, particularly since the move away from the use of antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) in that market,” said the CEO.
South America also beckons. Nor Feed is working with a premix company in Brazil and carrying out local trials in Ecuador, Chile and Peru.
The US is not on its target list for now but the company is supplying a major Canadian pork integrator with plant extracts. That firm, which produces 1.69 million hogs annually in Canada and the US, has carved out a niche market for high end pork products in Japan along with export to Russia and China and, as a result, requires premium feed inputs, said Clech.
“We aim to add value where we can. In that context, we have also initiated a partnership with a start-up here in France, CarePhyt. Leading veterinarian, Eric Beltz, based in Beaucouze, has set up a company targeting progressive French pig farmers looking for inputs that support quality and sustainable pig production focused on a high level of animal welfare,” said the chief executive.
He said the company focuses only on a few plants and molecules such as saponins, grape and citrus extracts and teams up with local experts to ensure standardization and reliability of its plant extracts.
In that context, it is liaising with Angers based research group, the Interprofessional Technical Institute Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ITEIPMAI) and the laboratory of pharmacognosy at the University of Angers (SONAS).
Nor Feed said a study it presented on one of its citrus concentrates at the Global Veterinary Summit in Florida in August this year was well received by a community “normally not really open” to exploring the benefits of plant extracts in livestock systems.
The research in question concerned a broiler trial conducted in the Bangkok Animal Research Center (BARC) incorporating the company’s Nor-Spice AB (NSAB), which it maintains is a citrus concentrate containing a set of well characterized phytochemical compounds with a documented prebiotic like effect and control of pathogenic bacteria.
The study aimed at investigating the effect of NSAB supplementation in a ‘low-cost’ (5% Digestible Amino Acid (DAA) and -7% energy) broiler diet and to determine whether it is possible to reduce DAA and energy and still achieve zootechnical performances by supplementing the birds’ diet with NSAB.
The company said 88 male broilers were allocated to 4 diets involving optimal and low cost versions with or without 250 ppm NSAB supplementation. Zootechnical parameters were measured daily.
The results suggested animals fed with NSAB supplemented feed showed 1.1% higher feed intake, an improved FCR (-0.019) and livability (+5%), said the firm.
The effect of NSAB supplementation was said to be more evident in the case of ‘low-cost’ diet. The animals fed the ‘low-cost’ diet supplemented with 250 ppm NSAB reached similar final body weight as the animals fed the optimal diet without supplementation.