“Valeric acid has never been used in feed before,” said Geert Wielsma, portfolio director, gut health, for Perstorp’s feed and food business unit.
The Swedish company used last week’s European Symposium of Poultry Nutrition (ESPN) in Spain as a platform to introduce the new organic acid.
ProPhorce Valerins, explained Wielsma, is produced in an identical manner to that of another product in its short chain fatty acid (SCFA) line: “The manufacturing technique is the same as our ProPhorce SR butyric acid product, which consist of butyrins - glycerol esters of butyric acid - that are not coated, but in ester form. The esterifying technology enables a lower dosage for the same results. When digested, the butyrins or the valerins are hydrolyzed after the stomach in the small intestine.”
The company already produces valeric acid in Sweden for use in other sectors such as flavorings and plastics, and that factor combined with scientific curiosity was behind its decision to initiate a feed-related research project around valeric acid, he told us.
Perstorp has long been looking to improve its understanding of modes of action of SCFAs and their derivatives - the organic acid producer has been collaborating with the universities of Ghent and Lund and the Southern Poultry Research Group in the US in terms of that broad based research, he said.
FCR and challenge model
“In relation to ProPhorce Valerins, we have carried out in vivo and in vitro broiler trials at the academic level and at semi-commercial level with a couple of feed mills. In four performance trials, the product enabled a reduction in feed conversion ratio (FCR) by three points,” he said.
Trials also indicated a positive effect arising out of the use of the valeric acid product - at 1.5kg per ton of feed - in broiler diets in the presence of a Clostridium Perfringens challenge.
“Valeric acid is produced naturally by the microflora, it obviously has an impact on animal performance but research around that is scarce. Some four and half years ago, in tandem with the University of Ghent, we began investigating the use of valeric acid in a necrotic enteritis model.
“While a lot is known now about the anti-bacterial effects of organic acids in poultry, we really wanted to zone in on the particular mode of action of valeric acid.”
The trials, he said, showed the valeric acid product could reduce the pore-forming toxin NetB, a key virulence determinant in C. perfringens strains that cause necrotic enteritis in chickens.
Much larger commercial field trials are now underway on ProPhorce Valerins, said Wielsma. “We also received a lot of interest from delegates at ESPN, more companies are now looking to test it.
“These field trials will help us further build the competence and knowledge around this new product and confirm the FCR reduction data and dosage levels. It takes 10 to 20 such large-scale studies to really see how a product performs. We expect initial results after the summer.”
The commercial trials are being run in Europe only for the moment. “When you are launching a new molecule, it is much easier if such testing is done close by so you can keep on top of developments, it is better for follow-up work.”
The regulatory environment in Europe is also favorable in terms of the use of glycerin esters and valeric acid in feed, he explained.
“Those trials will hopefully provide us with new insights into how to move the work on ProPhorce Valerins forward.”