December 21, 2016


Raising pigs and poultry antibiotics-free thanks to algae


Press release



Concerns on the emergence of antibiotic resistance are calling for innovative technologies that provide alternatives to antibiotics for use in animal health and production, in a One Health approach.


Consequently, Olmix has developed a comprehensive program, based on its algae extracts technology, aiming at accompanying producers to decrease the use of antibiotics, achieving "antibiotic free production" and thus limiting the development of antibiotic resistance. This program, adapted to each farm, is based on a holistic approach and relies on the use of specific algae-based products together with a strong technical and management support. For the last 2 years, the Olmix animal care technical teams have work on projects in poultry and pig operations with the aim in both cases of reaching significant and measurable decrease of antibiotic use, even in preventive mode. Two thousands and four hundred tons of chicken and a thousand tons of pig have been produced and raised "Antibiotic free, Thanks to Algae" at the end of October 2016.


Antibiotics usage


The farms have been choosen for being regular antibiotic users, but looking for decreasing – or even stopping their use if possible. In many farms, even if farmers have reduced their overall antibiotic use, preventive antibiotic strategies to avoid any deviance in performance remain common.

In pig farming, for instance, a systematic antibiotic treatment is often prescribed at day 2 or 3 when neonatal piglet care is performed (teeth grinding, tail clipping, iron injection…). The main reason for this is to prevent potential arthritis issues and to secure operations and wounds creating route for germs entry. Piglets also very often receive antibiotic treatments in their early stage, via the supplementation of creep feeds and pre-starter feeds.

Regarding poultry, the start is the major critical stage. Upon the first days, facing some raise in mortality, the first reaction is often to apply an antibiotic supplementation in the drinking water.


Olmix strategy  to implement antibiotic free programs 


Implementing antibiotic free programs in facilities that have been routinely using antibiotics for many years require some specific steps to achieve success.


For Olmix, the first step was to identify operators willing to decrease their antibiotic use, with an interest for marketing differentiation towards the final customer. The first marketing differentiation being the "raised antibiotic free" allegation, the second one being the "Thanks to Algae" cobranding.


The second step was to take a clear and detailed overview of the technical situation of the farms. For this, Olmix pig and poultry experts entered the farms and made full audits of the biosecurity, feed and water management, sanitary status, prophylactic protocols, building quality and organizations, staff education…The purpose was to evaluate the feasibility to reach antibiotic free production and also to check if the withdrawal of antibiotics would not be jeopardizing the farm economical results.


The third step was to adapt the Olmix antibiotic free program to support the progressive withdrawal of antibiotics.


The poultry and pig programs are built to support the immunity, the hygiene, the mycotoxin risk management and the digestive welfare and efficiency of the animals (figure 1).


Immunity is one of the main leverage we can use to avoid the misuse of antibiotic. Olmix's complementary feed Searup modulates the immunity having a direct impact on animal's natural defenses  involved in immune response to vaccines or pathogens attack. Searup contains specific immunomodulating Marine Sulfated Polysaccharides (MSP) which biological properties have been demonstrated by INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) and published in march 2016 in the Journal of Applied Phycology. Searup  is a soluble product that can be easily distributed in the drinking water.


Hygiene is another essential tool to work on the decrease of antibiotic use. Drying and sanitizing the environment of the animals, thanks to MISTRAL, allows to decrease the sanitary pressure, the bacteria activity and therefore the ammonia production.


The digestive efficiency is supported by the increase of the enzymatic activity throughout the gut using MFEED+ in the feed, or by activating the liver and kidney functions thanks to antihyperlipidemic MSPs contained in Digestsea;  distributed in the water or on top dressing. The specific MSPmucin contained in Ecopiglet, Seagut or Sealyt promote the layer of mucus in the intestinal tract and will thus have a positive impact on the digestive welfare of the piglets or of the young chicks.


The mycotoxin risk, one of the major source of loss of immunity in animal production is also part of the Olmix antibiotic free program, using MT.X+ at the feed-mill.


Standard programs built from this range of product are adapted for each specie (see figure 2 and 3), and of course need to be fine-tuned to the management of each farm, according to the specific conditions of each production system.


Figure 1



Figure 2 Olmix antibiotic free program for pig


Figure 3 Olmix antibiotic free program for poultry



Experience in one 800 sow unit


The program was implemented in a farrow-to-finish pig operation of 840 sows in France. The farm was submitted to a detailed audit in December, 2015, from which an action plan was prepared and agreed with all collaborators. The action plan aimed at reducing antibiotic use from 100% of the pigs being systematically treated with one or several antibiotics, to a maximum of 10% of the pigs being treated with only one antibiotic. Moreover, the farm manager aimed at improving piglets weaning weight.

The use of 5 innovative marine algae-based products dealing with environmental hygiene, immunity, digestive welfare, mycotoxin risk and digestive efficiency, used in environment, feed or drinking water were adapted to the farm management type. The action plan was implemented step-by-step from February to May 2016.

Preliminary results of this case study show that the use of coccidiostat could be stopped, and antibiotic use was reduced by 94%. Indeed, for the last 22 weekly weaning 13 counted less than 6% of the piglets treated with amoxicillin, 8 had between 6 and 10,5% of the piglet treated with amoxicillin, and 1 batch was fully treated. Moreover, global performance in maternity was improved. When comparing performance of the pre-trial period (January-February, 2016) with the trial period (March-July, 2016), +234g at weaning was achieved, as well as an increased weaning rate (+0.51 weaned piglet/litter, +24 weaned piglets/week).

The study continues in this farm in order to confirm the preliminary results obtained and further improve performance. The six-month feedback already shows that it is highly important to adapt the strategy to each situation, and confirms the need of a global approach to reduce the use antibiotics in farms.


Experience in broiler operations


Although the mode of farming is different when working with chicken, the way to approach an antibiotic-free strategy is the same. All the stakeholders, farmers, vets, technicians and nutritionists, must be involved to implement the antibiotic-free program to make it a success.

In one of the programs we conducted we worked on two different genetics (JA957 and JA987), with densities varying from 28 to 32 birds per square meter and an age at slaughter of 38 days. The program has been conducted on a total of 22 batches, corresponding to 625 565 broilers, with 36 control batches, corresponding to 1 038 532 broilers.

For broilers raised at high density (JA957 and JA987) the Thanks to Algae Program lead to a drastic decrease of the therapeutical antibiotic use (-92%) while maintaining (average weight at slaughter) or improving (FCR, mortality) performance. Moreover, the condemnation rate at slaughter was reduced. 



The Thanks to Algae program allows to raise broilers with a dramatically decreased use of antibiotics. The question was then to be prepared to market those birds with a clear differentiation, which is quite difficult in Europe.




Raising pigs or broilers antibiotic-free is feasible. The cornerstone to achieve is to gather all the stakeholders around the table, the farmer, the vet and the feed miller. Each one of them need to find its interest in applying the program. It will need an holistic approach and some adjustment in the management before the total withdrawal of all antibiotics. Moreover, it will be necessary to bring some efficient support to the main factors of antibiotic reduction, immunity, digestive efficiency and welfare, hygiene and to secure the water and the feed supply by covering the mycotoxin risk.


Allegation will depend of the country of commercialization, USA may be the most advanced country in term of marketing this kind of allegation, you can read on packagings : "No Antibiotics", "Raised without Antibiotics". Meat with the AHA label comes from animals that were not given antibiotic growth promoters. But they can have been given regular low doses of antibiotics to prevent diseases. The ultimate distinction is "Antibiotic free ever".


By reducing antibiotics in animal farming, Olmix contribute to the reduction of antibiotic-resistance, which is a significant contribution to « One Health » and thus to human health. The brand "Thanks to Algae" or "Merci les Algues" certify the use of Olmix algae based solutions to reach this purpose. Olmix group considers that producing antibiotic-free is a first step to a better health and that using Algae compounds in the diet can be also a second source of health. By bringing the benefits of the ocean as health provider Olmix expect consumers of pig and poultry raised Thanks to Algae to improve their health status. The group is now actively working with INRA and human doctors to confirm some hypotheses of health improvement threw the consumption of meat coming from chicken or pigs raised Thanks to Algae! The feed of our animals can be seen as a health provider for the final consumer! A way to differentiate the feed or the meat in such a competitive word!


In this conception Breizh Algae Invest, an Olmix Group's subsidiary, recently celebrated the opening of the Picnic restaurant in Syngapore. The French stall will serve the SAGA Chicken, antibiotic-free chicken Thanks to Algae!



Biannic Olivier1, Gréau Philippe1,Gallissot Marie2, Dr Thomas Pavie1.

1 Breizh Algae

2 Olmix SA 

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