The UK-headquartered animal nutrition technology company profiled what it calls the first ‘stimbiotic’ product, Signis, during the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, Georgia.
The product is a blend of the enzyme xylanase and fermentable xylooligosaccharides (XOS), according to company data. It signals bacteria to become a microbiome or set of bacterial species focused on degrading fiber.
The process of a feed additive acting as a stimbiotic involves the ingredient prompting the “development of a fiber fermentable microbiome,” said Mike Bedford, research director with AB Vista.
“It is about including a low concentration of products that are used as a signal or kickstarter, driving the microbiome to ferment the fiber that is already present in the gut,” he told FeedNavigator. “This contrasts with prebiotics where a product is added in high concentrations to be used as a substrate for hindgut fermentation.”
AB Vista developed the alternative use of the product through its work to understand how its products function, he said. “Signis is the culmination of 10 years of research into monogastric fiber fermentation, so it’s relevant for both pigs and poultry alongside other monogastric animals,” he added.
“Our work involves understanding the mechanisms in which our products function,” Bedford said of how the use of the additive was developed. “We recognize oligosaccharides play a very big role in the response of the microbiome to an NSPase and correct titration of an oligosaccharide with the enzyme optimizes the animals’ response,”.
An NSPase is a non-starch polysaccharide (NSP)-degrading enzyme.
Improving fiber degradation boosts nutrient digestibility and allows for the fermentation of fiber that previously would not be degraded, the company reported.
Establishing, using a stimbiotic
As the feed industry seeks to reduce the use of antimicrobial growth prompters it needs new tools to support animal health and production, said Bedford. Improving the fermentation of fiber has gained an “increased significance” for producers as better fermentation has been linked to a reduced likelihood of enteric disease outbreaks.
“Signis offers an opportunity to maximize fiber fermentation more effectively and more frequently than could be achieved with just an NSP,” he said. “We believe we’ll be opening a new market, as fiber fermentation isn’t fully addressed in correlation to NSPases alone.”
The additive is intended to be fed throughout an animal’s lifecycle, he said. Currently, AB Vista is exploring the use of larger doses with younger animals.
The product is also relatively stable and able to withstand the pelleting process, he added.
Looking at company research, the additive has improved performance in 88% of feeding trials, said Bedford.
“[It] is proven to deliver an average 5pt improvement in poultry body weight-corrected feed conversion ratio,” he said. “There is an average 2.5pt improvement compared to a standard carbohydrase.”
The additive has an “assigned energy value” so it can alter ration formulation, but feeds may not need to be completely reformulated to see improvement, he said.
“We do believe that the use of this product will encourage a far greater degree of carbohydrate compared with protein fermentation,” he said. “This will enable better performance under most circumstances, regardless of whether there is a formulation change or not.”
The product has been released commercially, Bedford said. The next step will be to watch customer trials and for the company to continue its own formulation development.