Reducing the economic impact of coronavirus in animal nutrition through targeted application of enzymes

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Reducing the economic impact of coronavirus in animal nutrition through targeted application of enzymes

Diego Parra, Technical Manager EMEA, AB Vista



Covid-19 has posed and continues to pose a wide range of challenges for the agri-food industry. The relationship between supply and demand for animal protein has been clearly affected due to the closure of regions and countries, lockdowns, the loss of tourism and the closure of the HORECA (hotel, restaurant and catering) channel. Therefore, in recent months, we have seen the impressive way the agri-food industry has managed to adapt to this changing situation in the supply chains, shifting supply from HORECA to retail for instance.

In many other sectors, companies have had to close down temporarily or permanently. However, the agri-food production has continued with all the efforts that this has entailed, due to the essential nature of this sector. 

Not only have we learned to live in lock down, besides that we have adapted to the so-called "new normality". In this context, companies have also had to adapt to the new situation, because to a greater or lesser extent, it has affected the economic results of most of the sector.

As for the animal nutrition companies, our main function is to be able to provide strategies, services and products in order to produce high quality animal protein in the most efficient way possible. This has always been the objective, but it is even more accentuated in these particularly difficult times.

Livestock feed accounts for between 65% and 70% of the total cost of production, so it is a parameter to be constantly and thoroughly scrutinised by producers. In the current pandemic context, the strategy of using enzymes to increase the maximum level of nutrient release from raw materials becomes even more important.

The use of phytases, to break down phytate molecules, as well as the use of carbohydrases, namely xylanases to break down arabinoxylan (AX) chains, is of particular interest in order to achieve cost reduction in the manufacture of compound feed.

That is why AB Vista offers the Maximum Matrix Nutrition (MMN) strategy instead of a more conservative matrix use that is normally employed and consists of an "over the top" way of using NSP enzyme products and just using the mineral matrix for phytases
This strategy consists of the joint use of phytase at high dose with xylanase in order to extract the maximum amount of nutrients from the raw materials, using a mineral, energy and amino acid matrix in the formulation.  This reduces the cost of the diet without penalizing the performance results.

Thanks to the action between phytase and xylanase, as well as the greater knowledge that we have of substrates today, this allows us to eliminate the anti-nutritional factors in the diet and consequently improve the digestibility of most nutrients.  This is achieved mainly though the combined destruction of phytate, reduction in viscosity and improved fermentation of fibre.

In this way it is possible to include a mineral, energy and amino acid matrix when formulating, which will significantly reduce the price per ton of feed, without affecting the production performance of the animals and therefore making the final production cost per kilogram of animal protein cheaper.

It also allows for greater environmental sustainability by reducing CO2e, nitrogen and phosphorus emissions, due to a more efficient use of raw materials due to the use of enzymes.

When using the MMN strategy, large economic savings can be achieved due to the full release of nutrients present in the materials.  However, most nutritionists are reluctant to use the full matrix values supplied by additive suppliers, often applying significant "safety" margins. Furthermore, it is clear that although a matrix value for an additive may be 100% correct, it does not mean that the matrix can be applied in diets where more than one additive is used: additive matrix values are not additive! This is because the first additive in use improves nutrient utilisation, which then leaves less room for improvement of the second additive and so on. A typical practical approach is to use 80% of the combined matrix values of an additive combination, for example when calculating with nutrients from both phytase and xylanase in a diet.

As a practical example of the MMN strategy, extensive validation trials have been carried out worldwide with broilers and the results show, on average, a saving between a conservative strategy and an MMN strategy of about 8 pounds per tonne of feed, depending on the raw material price at the time.

In this trial, the effect of the MMN concept in poultry meat production is studied by evaluating four treatments.

    1) Positive control, where no enzymes are used, and all nutritional requirements are met by the ingredients;

    2) Industrial control, with a conservative strategy in the use of enzyme doses and formulation matrix, where only a mineral matrix (phosphorus, calcium and sodium) was used for phytase and some energy for xylanase;

    3) Negative control, applying MMN strategy (use of a high matrix for mineral, energy, protein and amino acids) but without adding the enzymes; and, 

    4) MMN strategy, (utilisation of the phytase and xylanase matrix: mineral, energy, protein and amino acids) and with the addition of enzymes, Quantum Blue 2000 FTU/Kg and Econase XT 9,600 BXU/Kg.

NC is worse so reducing nutrient levels has an impact, it is not just the safety margin you reduce, and then adding the enzymes to the NC restores performance which validates the matrix values.

Table 1.  Productive results of the different treatments.

Graph 1: Percentage difference compared to the PC.

There is a clear decrease in the price of feed with the MMN strategy. Due to the joint use of phytase and xylanase and the application of full matrices in phosphorus, calcium, sodium, amino acids and energy. The conservative strategy called industry control, improved by 2.4% feed cost compared to the positive control. So, the industry standard way of using enzymes already delivers a substantial cost reduction but the MMN strategy reduced feed cost by 5.7% compared to the positive control. As a result, the difference between the conservative strategy and MMN strategy was a further 3.3% reduction in feed cost. 

As an example, if a bird eats 5 Kg of feed during its cycle, and the feed price might be USD $411/tonne, a poultry integration which is producing 500,000 birds per week, the cost saving due to  feed cost reduction, would be around $24,648 in the conservative strategy and $58,536 in MMN strategy per week, being the difference between MMN strategy and conservative strategy around $33,888 per week.


Supplementation of 2,000 FTU/kg Quantum Blue and 9,600 BXU/kg Econase XT demonstrated the ability to spare minerals, amino acids and energy whilst maintaining broilers performance with a substantial reduction in broiler production costs due to the use of a full matrix in the formulation diet. For this reason, it´s the most cost-effective treatment.

Furthermore, if enzymes increase the availability of nutrients but they are in excess of requirement then this may be less efficient than taking the matrix into account and supplying a balanced nutrient package to the birds. So, it is worth checking that all relevant nutrients are considered when we are applying enzymes, with the aim being to maintain the balance between energy, amino acids and minerals. Sometimes it has been thought that the use of a conservative matrix, using just the mineral part for example, could help a company avoid the risk of a full matrix program. But it has been seen that following this conservative approach can result in a nutrient imbalance, penalizing animal performance. For this reason, it makes sense to include all the nutrients in the diet to optimize nutrient balance. 

Therefore, it is timely that animal nutrition companies can offer flexible strategies that help to generate better economic results thanks to advances in the understanding of ingredients, their nutrient and anti-nutrient contents and how to address such problems through use of enzymes. The goal is to extract the maximum possible nutrients from the diet while providing the highest profitability to the animal production sector.



For more of the article, please click here.

Article made possible through the contribution of Diego Parra and AB Vista
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