Test yourself – What type of nutritionist are you?

Of course, as a nutritionist you have guidelines you can follow in terms of nutrient requirements by species and production stage to help you formulate diets in a cost-efficient way.

But when it comes to functional additives and controlling dietary risks other factors come into play, when you are making decisions on what to include in animal diets. One of those factors is your personality and the goals of your organization.

Knowing yourself better, tells you more about what solutions match with what is important to you, when it comes to formulating diets. Given the vast number of functional additives out there, it narrows down your choices and can reduce the stress of choosing between options.

Find out what type of nutritionist you are and what drives you by answering 7 relevant questions in an anonymous quick test. Then consider the impact this is having on your decisions, when you are formulating diets.

Mycotoxins: Test your knowledge with our quiz

Mycotoxins are toxic secondary metabolites formed naturally by moulds on crops and forages in the field and during storage after harvest. In food and feed they pose a potential threat to human and animal health. Fusarium, Penicillum and Aspergillus moulds are the main sources producing a variety of different types of mycotoxins.

The most commonly known mycotoxins found in animal feed and feed materials are:
Aflatoxin            How big is the threat of aflatoxins in poultry diets?
Deoxynivalenol (DON)            How does DON affect feed intake in pigs?
Zearalenone
Fumonisin
T2-toxin
Ochratoxin

 

Co-occurrence of mycotoxins

However, there are around 500 known mycotoxins. Recent surveys, using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry to analyse animal feed and feed raw materials, revealed that all of the samples contained a multitude of mycotoxin metabolites. In most cases 26 to 30 different metabolites were detected.

Other studies and surveys analyzing for the more commonly known mycotoxins have shown that 30-100% of feed samples contained more than one type of mycotoxin.  The reality is that nutritionists, and producers are often dealing with raw materials and feed with multiple mycotoxin contamination.

A survey conducted on 330 samples of feed ingredients found that Corn was by far the most affected by co-contamination.

Research on toxicological interactions of mycotoxins found that most of the studies reported synergistic or additive interactions regarding adverse effects on animal performance.

This explains, why more severe responses are seen in animals despite low contamination of individual mycotoxins found in the feed, when more than one mycotoxin is present.

Deoxynivalenol: Feed intakes at risk with DON in 2016-2017 harvest

Deoxynivalenol (DON) belongs to the trichothecene group of mycotoxins and is the most prevalent mycotoxin found in feed materials around the world. Neogen reports DON in the wheat and barley 2016 harvest of several states in the USA (Figure 1 below) and certain states such as Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa have also reported DON in corn.

Pigs are particularly sensitive to DON in the diet and generally the first symptoms to be seen in pigs is a reduction in feed intake. This is particularly detrimental to performance in young pigs, but can also impact older pigs. A meta-analysis (Andretta et al 2012) on 85 published papers on the impact of mycotoxins on pig performance showed that feed intake was 26% lower in animals that consumed diets containing DON in comparison with control groups.

Find out how DON affects feed intake here

Other stress reactions to DON at the cellular level

While the biggest negative impact on pig performance from DON is due to a reduction in feed intake, there are stress reactions at the cellular level and in the gut that can increase the susceptibility to disease and reduce efficiency of performance in pigs.

Oxidative stress
Increase in inflammatory responses
Shifts in the gut microflora towards more pathogenic bacteria
Reduced gut integrity

Figure 1  attribution to www.wattagnet.com

don-wheat-barley

DON- How does deoxynivalenol (DON) affect feed intake in pigs

A well known response to the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON) is a reduction in feed intake. This is particularly the case in pigs. According to a meta-analysis (Andretta et al 2012) DON reduces feed intake by 26% in pigs.
DON is globally the most prevalent mycotoxin in pig diets and there are signs that this year’s harvest of certain crops is contaminated with significant levels of this mycotoxin. Feed intakes at risk with DON in 2016/17 harvest

What controls appetite?

One constant physiological factor of appetite control are certain gut peptides, of which cholecystokinin (CCK) is one of them. CCK is released in response to feed intake and sends signals to the brain contributing to the sensation of satiety, when it binds to certain receptors, such as CCK1R.

Scientific studies show that CCK1R antagonists increase meal size and food intake in experimental animals, and they increase hunger, meal size, and caloric intake in humans.

Physiological effects of CCK include stimulation of gastric acid, gallbladder and pancreatic secretion, decreased gastric motility and suppression of energy intake.

Researchers studied the control of eating by CCK in pigs extensively. As in humans, carbohydrates, proteins and lipids all stimulate CCK secretion in pigs. Active immunization against CCK increased food intake and body weight in pigs (Pekas and Trout 1990) confirming the importance of CCK in feed intake.

How does DON affect appetite?

More recent studies carried out in mice show that the decreased feed intake in mice in response to DON in the diet corresponds with a significant increase in CCK in mice compared to a control diet. Studies with a relevant antagonist known to bind to the same receptors as CCK report that the negative impact of DON on feed intake in mice can be reduced through the antagonist.

The conclusion was that CCK plays a major role in feed intake reduction in response to DON. DON exposure also elicited higher proinflammatory cytokine responses in mice, which could be another cause of DON-induced anorexia.

Test your knowledge on mycotoxins

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.

ANCO knowledge: 3 things to know about bentonites

Bentonite can be applied in animal nutrition to adsorb mycotoxins and reduce mycotoxin bioavailability from contaminated feeds in the animal’s gut. It is a fine clay material mined from the earth. Most bentonites are formed by the alteration of volcanic ash in marine environments and occur as layers sandwiched between other types of rocks (as can be seen in the image above).

Bentonite is defined as a naturally occurring material that is composed predominantly of the clay mineral smectite. The Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) and the specific surface area of smectites are considerable larger than other families of clays. Their absorption capacity is as much as 8 times greater than other clays.

However, there are a few things to know before applying bentonite to animal feed:
1. Not all bentonites are the same
2. Best proof of efficacy is still in vivo
3. Only one type of bentonite is EU approved for the adsorption of mycotoxins

1. Not all bentonites are the same

Bentonites are colloidal and plastic clay materials composed largely of montmorillonite (a species of dioctahedral smectite). The properties of bentonites can vary considerably depending on geological origin and any post-extraction modification. Their individual characteristics have a marked bearing on their economic use.

Despite the generic nomenclature of commercially-available bentonite, several physicochemical properties have been identified as having a possible correlation with adsorption of mycotoxins and might therefore be used to categorize the different available types.

These characteristics comprise:
• cation exchange capacity (CEC), exchangeable K+, Na+, Mg++ and Ca++,
• pH
• linear swelling,
• mineral fraction
• relative humidity
• d-spacing

Role of d-spacing for zearalenone adsorption

Adsorption to clays is not limited to the surface of the clay particles, but extends also to the interlayer space of the clay. This interlayer space, characterized by the d-spacing, can be determined with X-ray diffraction (XRD) and is restrictive for the formation of one or more adsorbent layers. This space can increase if the clay swells, thereby increasing the number of binding sites.
In vitro adsorption tests have shown that there is a positive correlation between zearalenone adsorption and d-spacing in commercially available products based on bentonite, i.e. large d-spacing was associated with higher % adsorption of zearalenone. (De Mil et al 2015). The d-spacing ranged from 9.2 to 21.5 (10-10 m) in 16 different products containing bentonite material, showing the large variation in material out there.

Difference between cis- and trans-bentonites for aflatoxin adsorption

Recent scientific data (Vekiru et al 2015) evaluating different types of bentonites for the in vitro adsorption efficacy relating to aflaxtoxin B1 has shown that most of the tested Ca- or Na-bentonites were effective. However, cis-bentonites were more effective than trans-bentonites.
Dioctahedral smectites that are found in bentonite have one vacant position in the octahedrons because one of the three symmetrically independent octahedral positions is not occupied by cations, resulting in a vacant site. The disposition of the hydroxyl groups in the octahedral sheet with respect to this vacancy defines the configuration cis- or trans-vacant.

2. Best proof of efficacy is still in vivo

In vitro experiments have been developed as a way to effectively pre-screen adsorption agents before testing in animals. However, results between in vitro and in vivo efficacy can vary significantly. Even among bentonites with high in vitro adsorption efficacy, there are differences in in vivo efficacy indicating that in vitro testing alone is not adequate for evaluation of adsorbents.

3. Only one type of bentonite is EU approved for the adsorption of mycotoxins

Currently 1m 558 bentonite has been approved as a substance for reduction of the contamination of feed by mycotoxins (aflatoxin B1) for pigs, poultry and ruminants according to EU regulation in the EU register for feed additives. The approval is based on safety of using the product and proven in vitro and in vivo adsorption efficacy of Aflatoxin.

This bentonite meets the following characteristics:
• Bentonite: ≥ 70 % smectite (dioctahedral montmorillonite)
• < 10 % opal and feldspar
• < 4 % quartz and calcite
• AfB 1-binding capacity (BC AfB1) above 90 %

At current recommended maximum inclusion level of this bentonite in animal feed, the binding of vitamins and minerals is insignificant.

ANCO knowledge: What matters to quality pork producers

Pork producers certified by AMA (Agrarmarkt Austria Marketing) produce pork of the highest quality standard in Austria (see more info below). What really matters to them in pig production is high performance, quality and flexibility in production, whilst feeding antibiotic-free diets and meeting the top demands on animal production from consumers in Austria.

3 most wanted characteristics in farmers by the public

1. 85% treat animals responsibly
2. 82% treat the environment responsibly
3. 77% produce food of high quality
(survey of 1000 people, Bauernbund 2015)

What does the AMA seal approval stand for?

AMA_gutesiegel_logo

Food products that carry the AMA (Agrarmarkt Austria Marketing) seal of approval
• Meet the highest quality standards.
• Transparency: It guarantees that foodstuffs can be traced to their source.
• Farmers, processing plants and retailers certified by AMA conform to standards, which are stricter than required by law and are monitored by independent testing centers.
• Animals raised and slaughtered in Austria.
• Antibiotics are only allowed for treatment and only with prescription from vets. If animals are treated with antibiotics withdrawal times are twice as long as what is required by law.
• The majority of feed comes from home grown cereals. Any feed supplements need to be bought from AMA certified feed manufacturers.

Number of AMA certified pig producers

Currently there are 1800 pig producers in Austria, that are producing according to AMA standards. The total number of pig producers in Austria is around 30 000.

Agriculture and pig production in Austria

The agricultural sector in Austria is shaped by small family farms.

The average farm in Austria has:
• 71 pigs
• an average utilized agricultural area (UAA) in ha per farm of 19.3 ha
• 14% have more than 50 ha.
• 34% of arable land is producing feed grain
(Federal Institute of Agricultural Economics 2011).

Out of around 132653 farms in Austria:
• 56% are part-time farmers
• 17% are organic farmers
• 80% are livestock farmers
• 23% are pig farmers

The current economic value of pig production in Austria is 860 Mio Euro (Bauernbund 2015).

Aflatoxin: How big is the threat of aflatoxins in poultry diets?

Aflatoxin is a secondary metabolite produced by toxigenic strains of A. flavus and A. parasiticus. Chemically, aflatoxins belong to the bifuranocoumarin group, with aflatoxins B1 (AFB1), B2 (AFB2), G1 (AFG1) and G2 (AFG2) being the most toxic. Liver is the main organ affected by these toxins.

Poultry is considered as the most susceptible animal species to aflatoxins. A meta-analysis (Andretta et al 2011) carried out on broiler performance in response to mycotoxins showed that aflatoxin (average concentration 0.95mg/kg of feed) and ochratoxin had the biggest effects on broiler performance. Aflatoxins on average significantly reduced feed intake by 10% and growth rate by 12%. Aflatoxins also significantly increased liver weight by 22% and the weight of kidneys, lungs, gizzard and the heart. Aflatoxins presented the most important effects of all mycotoxins on organ weight in broilers.

Occurrence of aflatoxins in feed ingredients

Global mycotoxin surveys for 2015 feed and feed ingredient samples revealed that 20% of complete diets were contaminated with Aflatoxin of which 5% at a level of Aflatoxins above risk threshold. The feed ingredient most frequently contaminated with aflatoxin above risk threshold level was corn.

Aflatoxin production occurs primarily in regions with tropical or subtropical climates. Hence, from a European perspective, imported feed such as peanut cake, palm kernel, copra and corn gluten meal (depending of origin) is considered to be the most common source of exposure.

A recent review (Pinotti et al 2016) on the global occurrence of mycotoxins states that aflatoxins are most often detected in Southern Europe, Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia (average values of positive samples higher than 30%).
Aflatoxin Occurrence_2016

Regulatory guidelines for aflatoxin limits in poultry diets

In Brazil, the presence of aflatoxins in corn is regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture through Decree 183 of March 21, 1996 and Resolution 274 of October 15, 2002 of the National Sanitary Surveillance Agency, which established a maximum limit of 20 μg/kg for the sum of aflatoxins B1, B2, G1 and G2.

In the EU the presence of undesirable substances (chemical contaminants) in feed is controlled by EC Directive 2002/32 (as amended). The Directive sets maximum permitted levels (MPLs) for substances that are present in, or on, animal feed that pose a potential danger to animal or human health or to the environment, or could adversely affect livestock production. Currently, aflatoxin B1 is the only mycotoxin with MPLs. MPLs of aflatoxin B1 have been set as low as reasonably achievable in order to protect animal and public health. The aflatoxin B1 limit for poultry diets in the EU is 20 μg/kg.

In the US the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established guidelines for the maximum toxin level that can be safely fed to the animal. See table below.

FDA’s action levels for aflatoxin in poultry feed
FDA aflatoxin guidelines
FDA aflatoxin guidelines

ANCO presents competence in dealing with nutritional stressors

Anco Animal Nutrition Competence develops cost-effective feed solutions for pigs, poultry and ruminants to live up to their performance potential efficiently. One important competence we rely on at ANCO is the knowledge required to support animals successfully in coping with nutritional stressors in feed by nutritional means.

Many animals don’t reach their performance potential, despite carefully formulated diets. This can be due to management and/or environmental factors. But there are also nutritional factors, that we have less control over and which can lead to a whole host of stress reactions in the animal.

Nutritional stressors, e.g. mycotoxins, in the feed will lead to stress reactions such as oxidative stress, inflammation, reduced gut integrity and shifts in the gut microbiota in the animal. This again will make the animal more susceptible to disease and performance efficiency of the animal will be sub-optimal.