Understanding different feeding strategies to achieve more

Inge Peeters, Global Team Leader Application Development and Technical Services Team; Poh Soon Chan, Application Development and Technical Services Manager APAC; Eastman


The demographics of emerging markets around the globe are changing. The rising population is resulting in an increase in urbanization and a growing middle class, and a subsequent increase in demand for low-cost animal protein. At the same time, consumers are demanding safer, high quality food. The latter is largely due to concerns over the apparent increase in the number of cases of antibiotic resistant-pathogens in humans, linked to the possible consumption of contaminated meat products.

Antibiotics have been widely used in animal production for decades, primarily to control disease, but also in suboptimal dose as antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) to improve growth rate and feed conversion efficiency. However, bacteria exposed to antibiotics at low doses for a prolonged period can develop antibiotic resistance, which enables them to survive and grow instead of being inhibited or destroyed. Many of the classes of antibiotics used in animal production are also important in human medicine, so resistance that starts on the farm can lead to serious public health issues.

In Asia, some countries have banned the use of certain AGPs, and others have been severely regulated or will be eliminated soon. The South East Asian countries are now also following this trend. However, despite these changing conditions, livestock production is required to occur in a very short time frame, and at a sustainable cost, while keeping the animals in good health. With these two challenges – high performing animals and withdrawal of AGPs – producers are under pressure to practice intensive husbandry to supply protein sources, yet while maintaining the animal health status. To achieve this double aim, feed additives will in the future be playing a crucial role in strengthening intestinal health and helping to reduce the need for use of antibiotics.

Commercially, there is a wide group of feed additives available in the market including, among others, organic acids, pro and prebiotics, phytogenics, and NSP enzymes. By understanding the mode of action of the different additives, better feeding and management strategies will be applied in animal husbandry, avoiding the use of antibiotics.

However, rather than only relying on feed additives solutions, we should tackle the impact of AGP withdrawal in a holistic way, such as by implementing proper feed biosecurity and feed hygiene measures with precise nutritional management. This may result in the need to adopt changes in the management of livestock, and introduce different feed components to compensate for the antimicrobial effects and optimize productivity. Important to note, is that a single solution may not lead to all the beneficial effects of antibiotics, however, a combination of several solutions within a specific approach can help to minimize the need for AGPs.

From the above-mentioned options, organic acids in particular have been widely used for feed preservation and acidification. Sufficient research has proven that organic acids are capable to penetrate the bacteria cell wall and disrupt the normal physiology of certain types of pH-sensitive bacteria and lead to their destruction. With these properties, organic acid blends are used to control the growth of bacteria and moulds. Additionally, the acidification properties also support the passage rate of the gut and digestion.

Eastman – one of the world's largest organic acids producers – has formulated a range of organic acid blends that help feed producers control the quality of their feed and ultimately help improve animal growth performance on the farm. Eastman ProGIT SF3 is a synergistic blend of the calcium salts of short chain and medium chain fatty acids (SCFA and MCFA respectively) enriched in lauric acid activated by citric acid. The coefficient combination of SCFA and MCFA achieves a broader antimicrobial spectrum by targeting both pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria (by SCFA) and Gram-positive bacteria (by MCFA).

A broiler trial was conducted in a controlled environment to demonstrate Eastman ProGIT SF3's potential to reduce the need for AGPs (Zinc Bacitracin and Colistin) without compromising broiler performance.

Broiler performance with Eastman ProGIT SF3

Another trial was conducted for weaning piglets. Eastman ProGIT SF3 was used to replace zinc oxide.

Piglets week performance with Eastman ProGIT SF3

Both trials demonstrate that organic acid blends (Eastman ProGIT SF3) are able to maintain animal growth performance without the use of AGPs. This suggests that using organic acids can be the right feeding strategy to reduce the need for AGPs.


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Article made possible through the contribution of Inge Peeters, Poh Soon Chan and Eastman