Economics, piglet performance metrics and AGP-free diets

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages
© GettyImages

Related tags: piglet, antibiotic growth promoter, microbiota, MCFAs

A recent meta-analysis by Nutreco company, Trouw Nutrition, found supplementation of piglets’ diets with a feed additives blend resulted in an additional €1.31 financial gain per piglet.

The product, marketed as Presan-FX, is a synergistic blend of organic acids, medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), patented alkyl esters of MCFA’s, target release butyrates and a phenolic compound.

The meta-analysis involving 14 studies and more than 2,600 animals in Asia, Europe and North America, showed “significant and consistent"​ zootechnical performance and economic benefits among piglets receiving Presan-FX in antibiotic growth promoter (AGP)-free diets, said the company. 

Animals receiving the gut health improving feed additives in the 2012-2017 meta-analysis studies showed a 6.2% improvement in average daily gain (ADG) compared to a 5% improvement among animals receiving an AGP. Similarly, animals receiving the feed additive in the meta-analysis studies showed a 3.2% improvement in feed efficiency compared to animals receiving an AGP that showed a 1.4% improvement, said Yvonne van der Horst, Trouw Nutrition global product manager.

AGP v Presan
Results of meta-analysis of studies on Presan-FX 2012-2017 © Trouw Nutrition

The effects of AGPs are much less pronounced in contemporary studies compared to studies conducted between 1950 and 1985. Resistance to AGPs is one reason that has been suggested for the reduced efficacy of AGPs in modern studies,”​ she said.

Asked why it was important for Trouw Nutrition to carry out an assessment of the body of research on the feed additives blend, van der Horst told FeedNavigator:

Many companies claim that their products are effective alternatives to AGPs, however few have demonstrated their efficacy in a meta-analysis based on multiple studies executed in different regions. At Trouw Nutrition, we believe in evidence-based approaches and a meta-analysis is a powerful tool to which we regularly resort. It combines the data from multiple comparable studies, increasing the power and robustness of the analytical method.”

The improvements noted in animals receiving the feed additive were seen in both optimal and suboptimal digestion situations and in countries with varying management systems and hygiene conditions, she reported.

The results support the company’s integrated feed-farm-health approach, which helps to reduce reliance on antibiotics, she added. 

Yvonne van der Horst, Trouw Nutrition global product manager: "The performance improvements documented in the meta-analysis suggest it is possible for farmers to address growing concerns about antimicrobial resistance without sacrificing animal performance or producer profitability."

Microbiota composition 

Meanwhile, research done on Presan-FX, in the past two years, confirms that it positively influences microbiota composition by increasing the abundance of beneficial bacterial groups, she said.

“Designed to support gut health, the feed additive’s mode of action stabilizes the microbiota and strengthens gut wall integrity. This mode of action contrasts to AGPs which target growth performance mainly via direct effects on microbiota in the intestinal tract only.”

And research on that product continues. “Eighteen validation studies are planned [in relation to] the Presan range in 2020, in both swine and poultry,”​ she said.

In terms of what knowledge gaps remain on such AGP alternatives, van der Horst said an area that Trouw Nutrition is currently investigating is the effect of ingredients on inflammation and immunomodulation and how this affects animal performance. “The first results indicate immunomodulating effects locally – tissue ​ and systemically –b​lood level.”

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