February 16, 2022


Trouw Nutrition: Understanding what's sustainable, quality feed for poultry


An eFeedLink Exclusive Talk

In 2020, mycotoxins persisted as a serious challenge to the livestock and feed industries, contaminating more than 60% of raw materials and complete feeds, stated Trouw Nutrition through its global mycotoxin analysis.


Poultry is vulnerable to these toxic secondary metabolites and can suffer worse damages when exposed to a combination of different mycotoxins. In the area of poultry production, the most critical mycotoxins are aflatoxins, Ochratoxin A, trichothecenes and fumonisins.


In relation to these topics, Tech Talks sessions presented by Trouw Nutrition during the International Poultry and Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, Georgia, the United States, last January, spotlighted the need for safe, sustainable poultry feed to defend against mycotoxin risk and support sustainable poultry production.


Against the backdrop of IPPE 2022, eFeedlink spoke with Dr. Swamy Haladi, Trouw Nutrition's Global Programme Manager of the Mycotoxin Risk Management Programme, and Dr. Luigi Moreira, Global Programme Manager (trace minerals; Latin America).


  Dr. Swamy Haladi, Trouw Nutrition's Global Programme Manager of Mycotoxin Risk Management Programme


According to Dr. Haladi, mycotoxins have been a headache for feed and livestock since the 1960s. These problems call for an appropriate, effective solution — and mycotoxin binders, adsorbents that bind to mycotoxins and prevent absorption through the animal gut, enter the picture. Referring to the impact of aflatoxins on birds in Turkey and the United Kingdom, Dr. Haladi notes that their development started around the late 1970s, with some countries developing clay binders in an effort to manage the challenge.


"Some products had been validated for their ability to bind mycotoxins and prevent them from getting into the blood circulation of birds, thus reducing problems related to the health of organs such as the liver and kidney, immunity, performance and gut health," he says.


Quality poultry feed should not only be free of contaminants but can also provide the necessary minerals to support growth and performance. Hence, trace minerals are essential to ensure animal health and optimised productivity.


Focusing on this subject, Dr. Moreira highlights the synergy between organic minerals and hydroxy minerals. Traditional inorganic trace mineral can bind a large number of feed antagonists such as other minerals, fatty acids, vitamins, enzymes or phytate molecule. This can actually cause a lot of problems in the gut as it impairs mineral absorption and promotes oxidation.


  Dr. Luigi Moreira, Trouw Nutrition's Global Programme Manager (trace minerals; Latin America)


Supplementing broilers' diets with either hydroxy or organic sources of trace minerals can increase the amount of biologically active mineral delivered to the entire length of the intestine, thus increasing mineral absorption and improving performance parameters, gut health and carcass characteristics in broiler chickens.


Additionally, recent Trouw Nutrition research suggests the benefits of combining hydroxy and organic trace minerals in a hybrid supplementation strategy.


"When we see the recommendations in the case of minerals, their recommendations have remained the same for the last 10 to 18 years," Dr. Moreira says. "With new sources of minerals, what we can do is express poultry genetics potential and improve efficiency, with the combination of organic and hydroxy minerals."


Meeting these factors fulfill part of the prerequisites that uphold sustainability in feed and poultry productions, as well as the global food supply chain at work.


But how should feed and poultry producers create and source the best quality of feed possible?


During IPPE 2022, Trouw Nutrition attempted to answer those questions through its technical sessions, "A 3D approach for mycotoxin risk management in commercial layers" and "Feeding for Performance: The synergistic effect of hydroxy and organic trace minerals to improve efficient broiler growth".


Rethinking the approach against mycotoxins


In Dr. Haladi's view, commercial poultry layers are the most sensitive to mycotoxins, an issue that he addressed during IPPE 2022. One critical factor to this subject is the high-fibre diets fed to these birds. These diets and "hens' sustained exposure to multiple mycotoxins" adversely impact layers' performance and producers' economics, Trouw Nutrition says.


Dr. Haladi adds: "When you rear the birds for a long time, they may succumb to what is called chronic toxicity since they are consuming low levels of toxins every day."


He also believes that the industry needs to rethink how it tackles mycotoxins. He says that the term "mycotoxin mitigation" should be more emphasised than "mycotoxin binding". This aligns with the idea that, if mycotoxin contamination cannot be prevented in all cases, its negative impact can still be reduced.


"The use of the word "mycotoxin binder" is not accurate because you cannot bind all mycotoxins. Hence, we should use, what I call, a "mycotoxin mitigation" concept," Dr. Haladi explains. He points out "Research has shown that there are more than 600 mycotoxins, of which only handful are studied in detail."


Thus, combating mycotoxins goes beyond the ambit of the mycotoxin binding strategy, which, Dr. Haladi says, should not be the only approach. A more effective method is needed to improve both gut health and immunity, other than simply binding certain mycotoxins like aflatoxins. Achieving all these outcomes can be realised through Trouw Nutrition's use of a three-dimensional approach.


"We are looking at adding an ingredient that is capable of improving gut health. We have an immunomodulator to improve non-specific immunity, which is natural immunity that is very important to fight off infections," Dr. Haladi says.


He notes that Trouw Nutrition's '3D' approach has yielded results in some parts of the world, including China, where improvements in feed conversion ratio (FCR), egg weight and hence, return on investment were observed. This adds to what Dr. Haladi describes as an "integrated management of mycotoxins," with the prioritisation of sustainability.


"By reducing the fungal contamination of raw materials during storage, we help (to contribute to) sustainable agriculture production; that means less wastage of raw materials due to mould and mycotoxins," he says. "Less wastage means more grains available so you don't have to produce more grains… it's an excellent example of reducing carbon footprint."


Moreover, by improving gut health and immunity, Trouw Nutrition's product helps reduce mortality; as Dr. Haladi puts it: "less birds die, which means you don't have to produce more birds."


Organic and hydroxy minerals, the potent combination


Dr. Luigi Moreira shares Dr. Haladi's sentiments about achieving sustainability through creating quality poultry feed and points out that the "right combination of minerals can obtain better performance and nutrient stability" for poultry birds.


Additionally, organic and hydroxy minerals should be readily available in the market to help optimise livestock production. As newly developed sources of minerals, hydroxy trace minerals are virtually insoluble at a pH above 4.0, significantly influencing palatability. With their combined inclusion with organic minerals in diets and the advantage of new poultry genetics, FCR can be improved, Dr. Moreira states.


However, the main challenge for nutritionists, according to Dr. Moreira, is formulating diets with low-cost trace minerals. "The cost of using organic minerals as a complete minerals source is often prohibitive. On the other hand, hydroxy minerals as a new class of minerals could be considered on par with organic trace minerals in terms of performance response, but with a lower cost," he explains.


So how would poultry diets benefit from both minerals' inclusion?


In a trial presented by Trouw Nutrition during IPPE 2022, "All growth parameters showed improvement among birds fed the combination of trace mineral sources compared to the birds receiving sulphate sources of trace minerals," the company highlighted.


"Of special interest, the feed conversion ratio for birds receiving the combination of trace minerals showed a highly significant 3.2-point improvement compared to birds fed the sulphate source minerals."

  Trouw Nutrition's booth at IPPE 2022.


"We have to show that essential nutrients like trace minerals can help to improve feed conversion ratio, body weight gain and return on investment for poultry operations," Dr. Moreira says, adding that "trace minerals are essential to unleash nutrients."


But, just because trace minerals are good, poultry producers should be mindful not to overuse them, thus risking overdosage.


Dr. Moreira explains that excessive minerals could find their way into animal manure, which then end up in the soil and lead to potential contamination of the environment.


"I once told a customer that more is not better. People tend to (use an overdosage of minerals), but [getting better outcomes] means more is lesser," he remarks. What's required is the efficient utilisation of the right sources of trace minerals at the right levels.


"It is very important to maintain the homeostasis of the minerals in the animal while you don't overdose or sub-optimise minerals in the diet," Dr. Moreira says.


"With that in mind, we can design a feeding programme to achieve the best performance for the animal and limit what is passing into the environment.


"If we improve feed conversion ratio, we are also lowering nitrogen emissions into the environment."


The unending progress of sustainable poultry


There is more science to grasp and more that needs to be done to improve feed quality and poultry performance. For now, Dr. Haladi and Dr. Moreira's insights offer valuable lessons on ensuring what enters a bird is optimised to its full potential to realise the best outcome.


"There is sustainability that is linked to feed efficiency, and it helps in reducing feed cost and the demand of raw materials," Dr. Haladi says. Furthermore, "improving animal health and lowering the mortality of birds" have a positive impact on sustainable agriculture.


Feed and poultry producers should consider the right steps forward if they desire to fulfill key production goals. At the same time, they should also be cognisant of sustainable actions, in both their and the public's interests.


"We can be sustainable, we can be profitable, we can improve performance," Dr. Moreira says.


"What we have to do is to use the right sources of minerals, the right combination and the right amount to be profitable, to get better performances and to be sustainable."


- Terry Tan, eFeedLink

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