Phytogenic Feed Additives: From Advent To The Spectrum of Benefits Along With Other Attributes

With most of the industry realizing the need to add more and more innovations to improve the overall output by maintaining optimum quality, Nutrition is one section that has been a focal point since a considerable time. Considering most of the European countries have already acknowledged the benefits of phytogenic feed additives, we bring to you the expert opinions of Dr. Tobias Steiner, Dr. Jan Dirk Van der Klis & Dr. Andreas Mueller from Delacon (Austria) & Rajan Seralathan from Biomin India about the growth, prospects and other attributes of PFAs (phytogenic feed additives) via an e-interview detailed below:
It is estimated that the phytogenic feed additive market in Asia itself is to grow at the highest rate in the world market, what according to you has led to this change of preference from antibiotics and chemical based growth promoters specifically with respect to India.
Dr. Tobias Steiner: Markets in Asia have developed at a different speed. The Thai poultry market, for instance, is advanced in the use of non-antibiotic gut health additives such as PFAs because poultry meat products have been exported to Europe and Japan for many years. Thailand was probably one of the first markets that adopted PFAs in this industry segment. India is foreseeing a strong increase in the use of PFAs in commercial broilers, layers, and breeders, too, to reduce the use of antibiotics and to increase overall food safety. The swine industry in several Asian countries including Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and China is picking up the PFA technology, too, primarily in piglets and sows.
Rajan Seralathan: The change is still happening and a solid foundation is being laid, which will ultimately lead to a better growth of PFAs in the market. The present scenario in India is that about 5% have switched over to PFAs and we can say with confidence that more and more are getting influenced.
Do you think it’s the lack of awareness or some other reservations that indicate a very small market share of PFAs compared to other options?
Rajan Seralathan: In addition to lack of adequate awareness among stakeholders and consumers, cost factor, lack of legislation to boost the growth of PFAs and interest level towards sustainable business model, all contribute to this. However, the situation is changing and good days are ahead for PFAs.
Dr. Tobias Steiner: It takes a while until the livestock industry adopts new technologies. It is a normal process. In the case of PFAs, I believe that there may have been wrong expectations regarding their benefits on the farm level when PFAs were first introduced to the markets. Many manufacturers and users thought that they work as antimicrobials, killing bacteria in the GIT of swine, chickens and calves. In the meantime, we have learned much more about the actual modes of action of plant-derived substances. Today we know that they work in a different, more complex way. There is not a “one fits all” PFA solution. These products must be developed to address specific purposes and conditions.
What according to you based, on its spectrum of benefits can be termed as the phytogenic compound/product of the future in terms of performance, productivity and immunity
Dr. Tobias Steiner: First, I believe that PFAs will become a key ingredient of most compound feed formulations to provide a basic effect towards stabilizing performance by improving digestibility and minimizing excessive intestinal oxidative and inflammatory challenge. In that sense, we are foreseeing that PFAs become mainstream additives within the next decade. Second, we will see more PFAs that address specific challenges, such as post-weaning diarrhea, heat stress or protein deposition, just to mention a few examples. The plant universe is vast and offers a big number of potential applications.
How important is the guidelines of use? With the absence of a rigid regulatory framework and scrutinizing authority, what according to you can be the most detrimental scenarios for farm owners/breeders?
Dr. Andreas Mueller: Phytogenics used for ‘in feed’ applications are Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS status) or from the positive list of feed ingredients in the EU. Therefore, there are no safety risks. Their effects, however, are depending on the dose level, and overdosing can have adverse effects on gut integrity and production performance (like the well-known interactions of condensed tannins and protein).
Rajan Seralathan: Farming practices in each and every country are the result of various socio-cultural factors. While there are more guidelines and legislations that govern the farming in developed countries, the framework is slowly getting into place in countries like India. When the stakeholders understand the importance of PFAs in sustainable farming practices, it will be a win-win situation for all stakeholders and none will be affected.
In terms of research and innovation, what role does government contribution play and what according to you is the current scenario?
Rajan Seralathan: Both the central and state governments contribute significantly towards research and studies in improving public health. News items on antibiotic resistance, antibiotic residues are now being increasingly covered by the media. The current scenario is that the government is in the process of preparing blueprint towards ensuring safe food and thereby promoting public health.
As per you how has been the journey of PFAs since its advent and what’s the road ahead including challenges?
Dr. Tobias Steiner: The journey of PFAs started at a time when much less information on modes of action and efficacies was available than today. In the meantime, there has been tremendous progress of knowledge concerning effective product formulations. Today we have advanced tools available in our R&D process to investigate and select the right phytogenic substances for a specific application. We can determine modes of action of phytogenics not only on animal performance, but also on tissue and on a genetic level. We better understand the effects on the microbiota and on immune functions. With PFAs become mainstream additives, this technology will contribute to increase sustainability in livestock production due to improved digestibility, hence feed efficiencies, and reduced environmental emissions of ammonia, CO2 and methane. Another driving factor will be the positive impact of phytogenics on animal welfare, helping to maintain animals healthy and relieving them from stress. PFAs also contribute to reducing antibiotics usage on farm level and this trend is likely to become even more important with new PFA becoming available in the market that addresses specific health challenges such as post-weaning diarrhea in piglets.On the other hand, the regulatory environment tends to become stricter, which will likely result in a lower number of phytogenic substances that we can use and higher efforts in registering such products for specific claims such as growth promotion.
Rajan Seralathan: What was once whole herbs have now evolved into more advanced and more effective PFAs. Phytogenics are not new in India. In fact, it is imbedded deep in Indian culture. Unlike whole herbs, PFAs come in refined form and are more specific on claims. PFAs can also show measurable results compared to whole herbs. All these factors give the PFAs an edge. Moreover, the increasing awareness and interest in food safety will pave the road ahead for PFAs.
For our readers can you site some examples how PFA’s lead to feed improvements.
Rajan Seralathan: When PFAs are used, there will not be any AGPs in the feed. It is also proven that PFAs will improve feed utilization. Since it has high anti-oxidant properties, feed can be stored for long time.
Dr. Jan Dirk Van der Klis: Specific essential oils, like turmeric oil, or oleoresins from cayenne pepper and ginger containing capsaicin and gingerol stimulate the synthesis of endogenous digestion enzymes. Coriander and onion improve the activity of intestinal brush border enzymes, whereas the combination of essential oils and saponins stimulates the gene expression of crucial nutrient transporter in enterocytes. Overall these modes of action stimulate the digestion of feed and the absorption of nutrients from the intestinal tract. Other components like curcumin have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects that improve nutrient utilization.
How important is it to have a set standard for PFA’s and how at your site you ensure the quality of your product.
Rajan Seralathan: Research and development is the cornerstone of all we do. All application-oriented basic research is conducted by our in-house R&D team at the BIOMIN Research Center (BRC) at Campus Tulln in Austria. Our dedicated research teams develop new methods, frequently down to the molecular level, as tools for inventing new solutions for the animal feed industry. Through our research activities in enzymology, bioprocess development, analytical chemistry, gutomics, cell biology and bioactive ingredient formulation, we ensure the quality of our product.
Dr. Andreas Mueller: We are using ingredients with clear product specifications allowing the formulation of standardized final products with guaranteed minimum (and maximum) levels of the active ingredients. The level of lead substances of the ingredients and in the final product are analyzed as quality control. In this way the efficacy of the final product is ensured.
What difference does a feed including PFA’s (in addition to Antibiotics feed additives) make as compared to feed based only on AFAs? Have there been any studies conducted at your end or some references you would like to give.
Dr. Jan Dirk Van der Klis: We have conducted trials in broilers with PFA (as Biostrong® 510) on top of AGPs. Results did not differ significantly compared to diets without AGP. Thus, it can be concluded, when Biostrong 510 stimulates digestion of feed and simultaneously controls the bacterial activity in the intestinal lumen, nutrients can be absorbed by the bird optimally and are not used as substrate by the microbes. In addition, AGPs are nutrient saving due to its anti-inflammatory effects.
With the above-mentioned insights, it’s not unjustified to say that incorporating Phytogenic Feed Additives along with the conventional nutrition plan can only lead to beneficial results. Since the basic principle and mechanism of action is all natural, there is no setback or disappointment involved in the end. Now its up to the industry stakeholders to reap the benefits of what PFAs have to offer.