A new era of swine production is taking shape as producers and the broader industry adjust to new rules, expectations and opportunities for how pigs are raised.New science-driven, bio-based feed additive options have become a major focus, and one of the areas of innovation gaining attention is medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) technology.
MCFAs offer a fresh approach to enhancing swine diets and supporting integrated swine management strategies designed to optimize animal health and performance across all key phases of production.This technology is well established in Europe, where it has helped production systems sustain or optimize animal wellness and performance while they successfully transition toward a reduction or removal of the use of antibiotics.
"The more we have learned about the advantages of MCFA for swine production, the more the opportunities and application strategies have expanded," says veterinarian and MCFA expert Dr. Fokko Aldershoff. Now MCFA is gaining fresh attention across Canada over the past year as the newest generation technology has become available and is now seeing a sharp rise in interest and adoption.
Among numerous benefits, recent study results from leading universities and research institutions are expanding the knowledge of specific MCFA advantages for: supporting animal health and performance, providing an in-feed safeguard against viral contamination, protecting animals against a variety of wellness and stress challenges, and supporting control strategies against major pathogens.
Unique structure, diverse benefits
MCFA are molecules consisting of 6 to 12 carbon length chains that – under the right formulations and strategies – have shown functional activities beneficial to all phases of livestock production and value chain movement. This includes particular advantages during critical periods of transition and vulnerability over the course of production cycles. The leading MCFA technology has also been shown to help optimize intrinsic health and immunity across livestock species by positively supporting gut morphology.
In swine, along with broad animal performance benefits, among the specific pathogen control advantages with MCFA are benefits for supporting strategies to safeguard feed and animals against a number of top concerns. This includes the potential shown against enveloped viruses, such as porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, porcine reproductive and respiratory virus and African swine fever (ASF).MCFA also shows unique advantages to reduce vertical transmission of disease between sows and piglets and to address persistent bacterial pathogen threats such as Streptococcus suis.
The latest formulations featuring MCFA technology are considered a strong fit with market expectations both now and into the future. They represent a ‘triple-win tool’ benefitting the animals, producers and the industry as a whole. The technology fits well with advanced strategies designed to support health, well-being and overall performance of animals, including those raised under strict judicious use principles regarding the use of antibiotics.
Built for the new world of swine production
The latest research indicates leading MCFA options are beneficial in key phases of the life cycle and can support production systems regardless of whether or not those systems involve use of antimicrobials, says Aldershoff.However, with the shift toward greater restrictions on antimicrobials use and stricter judicious use principles, they have gained rising attention as a leading option to help producers transition to this new landscape.
An additional key advantage is benefits for animals during transport. Supporting the gut environment is arguably the top area of opportunity for producers and industry to optimize capacity, to get the most from production systems and also to protect value as animals move throughout the system. For example, pigs raised in Canada that are transported to the U.S. for finishing are faced with a variety of challenges including transport stress and heightened wellness challenges. Optimized gut health supports a higher plane of overall health for those animals and helps them better maintain weight and avoid stress or wellness loss.
The bottom line is there are numerous advantages for swine operations that are worth considering as part of an integrated feed strategy, he says. Today’s global animal feed and nutrition sector, along with animal agriculture, is rapidly transitioning to the future. Advances such as MCFA are expected to play an increasing role, by providing new solutions for safe, nutritious and high-quality animal food.
Hog producers have better choices than ever before when it comes to feed additives. One of the most promising areas of advancement is feed enzymes. This technology is proven to get more value out of feed and support everything from higher profits to a reduced environmental footprint.
Here’s a recap of what enzymes offer, how this technology has evolved and what swine producers can expect from the latest advances.
Feed enzymes 101
The purpose of feed for livestock is simple – to deliver energy and nutrition to the animals to support their health and performance. But only part of what is ingested by animals actually gets used for this purpose. A large portion of feed includes components such as non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs), which are either hard to digest or impossible to digest and end up passing through the animal unused.
Enzymes are nature’s answer to this problem. They are natural biological components whose job in digestion is to help break down feed into smaller, more digestible components. Specific enzymes can be identified and developed to break down specific NSPs into energy components that livestock can use. By using the right type of enzyme for the type of feed, producers can get a lot more energy and nutrients from the feed source that is actually absorbed by the animal and used to support health and performance.
Arguably the greatest enzyme success story to date has been phytase, which targets phytic acid (known as phytate). The phytic acid in plant material is essentially indigestible for monogastrics such as swine. However, phytase addresses this by causing the hydrolysis (i.e. breakdown) of phytate, which liberates phosphorus, calcium and other nutrients, thereby increasing their absorption. This allows nutritionists to reduce the inclusion of inorganic or synthetic sources of these nutrients, resulting in financial savings for the operation.
Over the years, feed enzyme technology has advanced not only for phytase products, but also for a number of other enzyme formulations with different activities and targets. Today this includes, for example, various forms of xylanase that target xylans, cellulose for targeting cellulose and beta-glucanase that targets beta-glucans.
The ongoing progress with feed enzymes development has given rise to the concept of ‘multiples’ – enzyme products that include more than one type of enzyme blended together within the same formulation. The benefit of this approach is the ability to address a greater number of NSPs with the ease of use of a single product.
Taking the concept of multiples a step further today is a “Multi-Carbohydrase” approach. This involves using multiple enzymes, each with multiple activities. Think of this as an “extra-strength” use of multiples, backed by robust science to maximize the complementary nature of the elements in the blend.
“When we look at developing a Multi-Carbohydrase enzyme strategy for a particular livestock species, the process starts with looking at the diet,” says Rob Patterson of leading Mutli-Carbohydrase enzyme manufacturer Canadian Bio-Systems Inc. (CBS Inc.) “From this we can identify what are the NSPs we need to target and then develop a formulation that can address all of those at once. The aim is to achieve a total breakdown, to get producers the most value possible out of their feed.”
Targeting total breakdown
For example, a typical corn/soybean meal based diet for swine may contain about 6% NSPs. Of this 6%, xylan would comprise the greatest portion at 43%, followed by cellulose and beta-glucans at 35%, pectins at 8%, mannans at 4% and various other NSP components making up the remaining 10%.
If the approach is to use a single enzyme, a formulation with xylanase is the obvious choice for this type of diet. However, even if the product used is the best of its kind and addresses 43% of NSPs, there is still 57% of NSPs not addressed. The best Multi-Carbohydrase options can achieve a total breakdown addressing all 100%.“This can make a big difference for a swine operation,” says Patterson.
A brand new category of feed technology with broad advantages for the new landscape of livestock production has been launched by CBS Inc.
“Yeast Bioactives” technology is a yeast-based innovation designed for use as a feed supplement in diets for poultry, swine and ruminants. It fits as an enhanced yeast and grain management option with advantages for all types of production systems, including those targeting reduction or replacement of antimicrobial use. It is available in several product lines as part of the CBS Inc. Feed Science Platforms portfolio.
“The introduction of Yeast Bioactives technology is a major innovation for the global animal feed sector that comes at an important time of industry evolution,” says Patterson. “It represents a leap forward in consistency and efficacy compared to conventional yeast cell wall components used in animal feed. It offers a unique solution that addresses many of the current trends and needs of the industry.”
Yeast Bioactives technology has shown properties and activities that help to mitigate a number of potential threats that can undermine feed quality, animal performance, animal health and food safety. It has also shown a high level of prebiotic activity that further supports an optimal environment for animal wellness, performance and related productivity.
“Yeast Bioactives technology can be used consistently as an ongoing safeguard and support for optimal health, performance and productivity under a variety of production systems,” says Paul Garvey, CBS Inc. Poultry Sales Manager. “It can also be used as a tool to support strategies for antimicrobial reduction or replacement. As a bio-based feed ingredient, it fits the type of solution favored not only on-farm but also by retail customers and consumers of animal-based food products.”
The new Yeast Bioactives technology stems from multiple years of discovery research by CBS Inc. in partnership with the novel feed technology research program led by Dr. Bogdan Slominski at the University of Manitoba. This effort was based on leveraging over 30 years of expertise and partnership among both groups in novel feed technology to identify and refine an optimal application. Success was achieved with a unique formulation that has proven highly effective.
“The result is a brand new yeast technology built for now and for the future,” says Patterson, who worked alongside Slominski and Dr. Anna Rogiewicz on the discovery research. “It gives livestock operations and everyone across the animal feed industry a important new option in the toolbox.”