Antibiotic-free – Take the stress out of antibiotic-free feeding

The fear of loss in animal performance and profitability can make farmers and integrators apprehensive to reduce antibiotic growth promotors (AGPs) in animal diets. However, a better understanding of nutritional stressors and appropriate biosecurity measures can provide reassurance, that life and profitability will go on with antibiotic-free feeding.

In the US many farmers use antibiotics to treat, prevent, and control animal diseases and increase the productivity of animals and operations. However, there is concern that routine antibiotic use in livestock will contribute to antimicrobial-resistant pathogens, with repercussions for human and animal health. Given these concerns, pressure to limit antibiotic uses for purposes other than disease treatment is mounting. Maintaining a profitable future is looking promising with sound management and new alternatives to AGPs.

Scary news
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that antibiotic resistance is responsible for more than 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths each year in the United States (CDC 2013).

Earlier this year, researchers have found a person in the United States carrying bacteria resistant to antibiotics of last resort, for the first time. According to a top US public health official this could be the end of the road for antibiotics. Another report mentions that the “new superbug” MCR—a gene, carried by gut bacteria, that confers resistance to the absolutely last resort antibiotic Colistin—has been in the United States for at least a year.

Relationship between use and resistance
In their 2015 report “The state of the world’s antibiotics” the US Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy states that the greater the volume of antibiotics used, the greater the chances that antibiotic-resistant populations of bacteria will prevail and that antibiotic resistance is a direct result of antibiotic use.

Two trends are threatening to increase global antibiotic consumption and therefore the risk for antibiotic resistance: First, rising incomes are increasing access to antibiotics, which is increasing the use in the human population. Second, the increased demand for animal protein and resulting intensification of food animal production is leading to greater use of antibiotics in agriculture. In the United States an estimated 80 percent of all antibiotics consumed are used in food animals (U. S. FDA 2010).

Changing consumer demands in the US
Consumer awareness of antibiotic use in livestock production has increased. One indication of the growing demand for products raised with limited antibiotic use is a Consumer Reports 2012 survey of 1,000 U.S. residents finding that 86 percent of consumers would like the ability to buy meat raised without antibiotics at their local supermarket. This survey found that over 60 percent would be willing to pay an additional $0.05 per pound for meat raised without antibiotics, and 37 percent were willing to pay an additional dollar per pound.

Major retailers and restaurant chains such as McDonalds, Subway, Panera Bread, Chipotle, Applegate, Whole Foods and Costco have picked up on this and are taking a proactive stance to eliminate the use of antibiotics over a given time frame. For instance, Chic-fil-A, the largest U.S. chicken chain by domestic sales volume, has committed to serve only 100 percent antibiotic-free chicken by 2019. The company announced that as of March 2015, it had already converted 20 percent of its chicken supply.

In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued final guidance on voluntarily phasing out the use of medically important antibiotics (those important for therapeutic use in humans) for livestock production purposes.

How to stay profitable

For farming operations, the biggest fear of reducing the use of antibiotic growth promotors in feed or stop their preventive use entirely is that it will reduce economic returns from animal production. However, there is research showing that antibiotics used for production purposes generally have limited effects on the productivity of raising livestock at the farm level and the effect has been decreasing significantly over time (Table 1).

Latest research in Belgium and the Netherlands has shown that reducing the use of antibiotics in animal feed, does not endanger the economic situation of pig farms when biosafety measures and vaccinations are applied. On the contrary, in finishing pigs it can lead to €2.67 more profit per head.

In this research, there was an active emphasis on improving biosecurity status, the vaccination scheme and farm management. On average, the farms received advice for a timeframe of roughly 8 months. While there was a reduction of use in antibiotics by 52% from farrow to slaughter, there was a significant increase in biosecurity. At the same time there was higher daily growth (+7.7 g/d) and a reduced mortality during finishing (-0.6%).

Table1_Anco

Success will depend on operations
In practice, the effects of eliminating antibiotic growth promotors from animal feed are likely to vary considerably and will depend on current practices and external conditions (Laxminarayan et al. 2015). Operations with better sanitation, less crowding, and more modern production practices are likely to be affected less than older operations that have not updated their facilities and practices. In Sweden, the ban on growth promoters had a greater effect on producers with lower hygiene standards (Wierup 2001).

Keeping up with the top players
Major meat producers such as Smithfield foods, Seaboard foods, Tyson and Perdue, Pilgrim’s Pride, Foster Farms have already taken steps to reduce the use of antibiotics in their operations and/or even to introduce antibiotic-free production lines. Perdue announced in July 2015 that more than half of their birds are produced antibiotic-free.

A global feed survey carried out by WATT revealed that 58 percent of respondents consider the elimination of antibiotic growth promotors in feed as a critical obstacle to overcome in 2016 and 65 percent of the participants in the survey report that their company is actively testing or using alternatives to AGPs.
The above trends are clearly following consumer pressure and/or government regulation mentioned earlier.

Ready, steady, agile – new alternatives to go antibiotic-free

Agility is the capacity to anticipate change, respond, adapt quickly and thrive in a changing environment. The key question is whether the natural ability of animals to adapt to nutritional challenges and other stressors can be deliberately accelerated and optimized to benefit animal performance and the agility of animal production systems.

Research in genetic selection shows that improving the ability of animals to cope with stressors is a better way of improving performance than selecting only for increased growth potential. Genetic selection is certainly going to play an important role for advancement in this capability of the animal. However, nutritional strategies supporting the speed and efficacy with which the animal adapts to stressors will bring a more immediate competitive advantage in animal production.

A new approach to nutrition is to support the agility of the gut, i.e. its ability to adapt to nutritional stress factors efficiently. The agile gut is quicker to respond to prevent negative stress reactions, such as oxidative stress, loss in appetite, increased gut permeability and inflammation, which can cause waste of metabolic energy and increased risk of disease.

Agile nutritional concepts are designed to empower animals to adapt to a variety of nutritional stress factors, for more robust and energy-efficient animals. They rely on bioactive substances mainly derived from plants, known to prevent some of the negative stress reactions seen at the cellular level and offer a safe alternative to AGPs.

Read ANCO’s first publication in Feed Magazine Kraftfutter

Gain competitive advantage with agile nutrition concepts / Wettbewerbsvorteile durch agile Ernährungskonzepte in Feed Magazine

This is our first article published in German and English by the Feed Magazine/Kraftfutter. Find out how feeding for gut agility can make farm operations more competitive. Reade more in the July/August 2016 issue of Feed Magazine/Kraftfutter.
www.agrarzeitung.de/feedmagazine/contents

Get a free re-print
If you would like to receive a re-print of the article, please email us with your postal address at welcome@anco.net and we will send you a free re-print of the full article by post.
You can also pick up a free copy at our booth at the Eurotier 2016 in Hannover, Germany.
Anco booth: Hall 18/D10

EuroTier 2016 – Talk to Anco Hall 18/D10 at EuroTier

Are you visiting EuroTier 2016? Go for a warm welcome at the Anco booth Hall18/D10. We look forward to engage with you and learn what matters to you.

• Find out how the Anco FIT product line can benefit safe and more profitable animal production.

• Take the next step towards a more agile operation and a competitive edge with gut agility.

• Meet our team face-to-face. If you would like to book one on one time in advance, write to us at welcome@anco.net and let us know your preferred day and time.

• Join our launch event

Anco Animal Nutrition Competence is a feed additive business acting globally to support competitive animal production with cost-effective feed solutions designed for pigs, poultry and ruminants. www.anco.net

Agility for competitive animal production in the EU

Animal producers and animal feed companies in the EU are facing tough times in a highly competitive and rapidly changing environment. Agile nutrition concepts are the next step towards more agile operations, maintaining a competitive edge and increasing efficiency. By Gwendolyn Jones, Anco Animal Nutrition Competence GmbH

The European livestock sector contributes €130bn annually to Europe’s economy and represents 48% of total agricultural activity. With the rapid growth of efficient farming businesses outside the EU, growth in productivity is essential for EU livestock farmers in order to stay competitive. According to a whitepaper by the Animal Task Force (ATF) this requires imaginative and innovative system approaches.

The ATF announced that one of the top priorities for competitive animal production in Europe is to improve resource efficiency of animals. This means more efficient and robust animals that are healthier, more resilient, have an increased well-being and have a lower feed conversion rate. Key to this for genetic selection will be identifying appropriate indicator traits that reflect improved resource-use efficiency. Furthermore, feeding management can have a significant impact on robustness and resilience of animals.

Dealing with the unexpected

Brexit- nobody really thought it would happen, but on the 24th of June this year the EU woke up to a Brexit decision by the British people. What that really means for the future is still uncertain. One thing is for sure, it will mean significant change for both the UK and the EU. How this is going to affect businesses, farming and agriculture is most definitely also going to be down to decision makers in management of organizations and how they will respond and adapt to a changing business and trading environment.

Businesses that are going to complain, resist or deny the change and just carry on with the same procedure as every year, are probably not going to do very well. Others that think: “Shit happens, change happens, but OK let’ s make a plan and deal with it!” are most likely to find ways to efficiently adapt to a changing business and trading environment and even find opportunities to benefit from the change. This is what organizational agility really is all about.

Organizational agility key to survival

Under today’s levels of uncertainty, ambiguity, volatility in the markets, and globalization, it is critical to be agile and quickly respond to change. Organizational agility is the capacity to anticipate change, respond, adapt quickly and thrive in a changing environment.
Given the rapid pace of technological development and growth of global competition, agility is the ability to move quickly and effectively in anticipating and taking advantage of change. It is essential to pick out fast what matters and act accordingly. Agile companies in the modern business world can maintain a competitive edge, despite significant business change in their environments.
A study by McKinsey found that 9 out of 10 executives said organizational agility was critical to business success and growing in importance over time. Given the challenges for animal production to remain competitive in the EU, organizational agility is precisely a capability increasingly also required by animal producers and feed millers.

Taking steps towards an agile operation

The American change management company PROSCI carried out research on what attributes agile organizations share that make them agile. The attributes where respondents scored the highest were:
1. We encourage cross-organizational collaboration
2. We anticipate and plan for changes
3. We have enhanced risk management practices

This is a starting point to generate ideas for steps to take to increase the agility of your organization. Organizational change management capability also showed up prominently as a crucial enabler of agility. So another step could be to start developing the change management capability of your organization.

In this article the focus is on what you can do at the animal level to increase the agility of your operation.

Advanced operational agility with agile nutrition concepts

Feed is the largest and most important component to ensuring safe, abundant and affordable animal protein. Animal nutrition is a crucial means to influence animal performance, production costs, product quality, environmental impact, animal health and welfare, and food security. Needless to say animal feeding plays an important role in livestock production systems and the pressure is on to quickly adapt animal nutrition to the challenges ahead and find new ways to meet increasing demands more sustainably, efficiently and at the same time taking the well-being of animals into account. All of which play a key role for consumers in the EU.

Agile nutrition concepts are concerned with the question, whether the natural ability of animals to adapt to nutritional challenges and other stressors can be deliberately accelerated and optimized to benefit animal performance and the agility of animal production systems.

Research in genetic selection shows that improving the ability of animals to cope with stressors is a better way of improving performance than selecting only for increased growth potential. Genetic selection is certainly going to play an important role for advancement in this capability of the animal. However, nutritional strategies supporting the speed and efficacy with which the animal adapts to stressors will bring a more immediate competitive advantage in animal production.

Agile nutrition concepts are an advanced step towards greater operational agility in animal protein production. The reality of the animal is, that it too faces unexpected changes in diet composition, feed raw materials and stressors such as mycotoxin contamination of feed. This again will lead to stress reactions at the cellular level, which will result in a reduction in production efficiency and can make the animal more prone to disease. It can also lead to reduced feed intake, resulting in reduced growth performance particularly in young animals.

The purpose of agile nutritional concepts is to empower the animal to adapt to nutritional stressors in a more energy efficient response and cope in such a way that negative impacts on performance are reduced.

Feeding for gut agility

The gut is particularly responsive to different stressors. That is why it makes sense to focus on the gut to empower animals to cope with stressors. A new approach to nutrition is to support the agility of the gut, i.e. its ability to adapt to stress factors efficiently. The agile gut is quicker to respond to prevent negative stress reactions, such as oxidative stress, loss in appetite, increased gut permeability and inflammation, which can cause waste of metabolic energy and increased risk of disease. Agile nutritional concepts are designed to empower animals to adapt to a variety of nutritional stress factors for more robust and energy-efficient animals. They rely on bioactive substances derived from plants, known to prevent some of the negative stress reactions seen at the cellular levels in response to stressors.

OUTCOME: more robust and efficient animals

Applying agile nutritional concepts to feed to support gut agility leads to more robust animals and greater efficiency in performance in the face of nutritional challenges, that are difficult to control, but are part of the reality of the animal and impact performance. The animal becomes more agile in the face of dietary challenges, resulting in more consistent high performance and well-being. This also helps to support the overall demand for agility in animal production operations to stay competitive in safe animal protein production.

Relevant publications

Plant extracts: Take advantage of the agile power to manage mycotoxin challenges

Plants developed highly sophisticated mechanisms to cope with stressors, many of which are based on bioactive substances that can be extracted from plant material. One way of empowering animals to cope with stressors better is therefore to supplement their diets with relevant plant extracts and bioactive substances derived from plants.

Stress reactions to mycotoxins in animals

Many trials have proven the significant negative impact of mycotoxins on performance in pigs and poultry. Looking at the effects of mycotoxins at a cellular level, it is becoming obvious that many reactions seen to mycotoxins in animals are those commonly seen in response to other stressors.

One reaction to stressors is an increase in Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). ROS are produced endogenously by normal metabolic processes, but amounts may be increased markedly by certain stressors, including mycotoxins. Deficiencies of natural protective substances or excess exposure to stimulators of ROS production may result in oxidative stress, which occurs when ROS exceed the capacity of antioxidants. Oxidative stress is a major factor related to the development of inflammatory diseases.

Consumption of DON-contaminated feed in pigs, not only increases oxidative stress, it has also shown to impact the gastrointestinal tract, causing epithelial injuries of the stomach and the intestine, leading to intestinal inflammatory response. In vitro and in vivo studies have also demonstrated that DON compromises the intestinal barrier function and increases gut permeability. Furthermore, it has been shown that mycotoxins modify the intestinal microbiota in pigs and in poultry. However, not all mycotoxins show this effect. For example, feeding pigs with fumonisin was not reported to induce any modification of the intestinal microbiota, whereas DON did. In the chicken a high dose of ochratoxin exhibited significant numbers of Salmonella typhimurium in the digestive tract when compared to non-administered birds. However, feeding birds with high levels of aflatoxin or T-2 toxin had no effect on incidence or severity of S. typhimurium colonization.

Taken all together these type of responses at the cellular level will predispose the animal to intestinal and systemic infections and impair efficient digestion and absorption of nutrients, with the associated effect on animal productivity and efficiency.

How plants adapt to stress factors

Plants are stressed by environmental changes that threaten their health, such as drought, pathogens and plant-eating insects. However, compared to animals and humans, plants have to be a lot more sophisticated with their response to stress since they are stuck where they grow and cannot run from the stress they are exposed to.
The exposure of plants to unfavorable environmental conditions increases the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the ROS detoxification process in plants is essential for the protection of plant cells against the toxic effect of ROS. The ROS detoxification systems in plants include enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant. Non-enzymatic antioxidants involved include phenolic compounds, flavonoids, alkaloids, tocopherol and carotenoids. The antioxidant defense systems work in concert to control the cascades of uncontrolled oxidation and protect plant cells from oxidative damage.

Apart from antioxidants, plants contain a multitude of bioactive substances, with a variety of proven properties such as anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and aromatic, which are part of their mechanisms for survival and defense. The combination of the many substances makes plants polyvalent to different stressors and threats to survival and hence more agile.

Beat mycotoxins to the punch with plant extracts

As mentioned above mycotoxins can lead to a variety of stress reactions at the cellular level, which again will affect the animal’s performance, efficiency and susceptibility to disease.
Through a multitude of bioactive substances, with a variety of adaptive properties plants are very well equipped to be polyva¬lent to different stressors and to prevent their negative impact. Bioactive substances derived from plants have also shown to support humans and animals to adapt to stressors more ade¬quately and help counteract some of the negative physiological and metabolic side effects.

Since the stress reactions seen to mycotoxins are very similar to those commonly seen in response to other stressors, applying the right combination of plant extracts to animal feed can therefore help the animal become more robust and efficient in the face of mycotoxin challenges.