Challenging the norm and thinking differently about animal nutrition and gut health – this was the overarching message among some of the most innovative, scientific minds in the animal nutrition world during the recent Vetagro International Forum (VIF) held near Rome, Italy.
The event, hosted by Vetagro, drew more than 200 leading production system nutritionists and university researchers from around the world who shared their latest scientific information and insights on gut health, including preventing damage to the intestines caused by disease, nutritional challenges or environmental challenges, all in an effort to better understand the role of nutrition in maintaining healthy animals. The information and opportunities discussed during this forum reinforce the unique perspective and approach Vetagro brings to the U.S. poultry and swine markets as a global leader in animal nutrition microencapsulation. Forum speakers discussed the impact of stress on animal health and performance, as well as the production challenges in an era focused on reducing antibiotic use.
R. Dean Boyd, PhD, technical director and nutrition leader for The Hanor Company, emphasizes the importance of nutrition in gut health during the weaning period. “In the stressful weaning period, animal nutrition plays an important role in the animal’s health and productivity. If an animal’s diet doesn’t include quality, balanced ingredients and if we don’t respect the consequences of a poor diet, it’s likely that pigs will get sick.”
Boyd explains that he has tried a nutritional product that is a combination of critical acids and essential oils and has seen good results. “It has been commonplace for us to add acids to diets of pigs that are weaned – during that early transition. But in the U.S. we tend to feed small amounts of acids that weren’t very repeatable in their effect,” he says. “We decided to come to Europe – to get a European perspective – where we feel they have been a bit more aggressive and the results more repeatable. The product that we use is Vetagro’s AviPlus® S. They have done such a good job of combining the critical acids with two specific essential oils that – in combination – deliver reduced scours, but also deliver on better feed conversion. The feed conversion, in essence, pays for the product. And the thing I was looking for – reduction of scours, which leads to less of a need for antibiotics – is free.”
Even with a stepped up nutrition program, Boyd says that animals will sometimes get sick and that’s when antibiotics are needed for treatment purposes.
Randy Mitchell, PhD, MBA, MS, vice president of technical services for Perdue Foods, is responsible for the company’s poultry business and has a similar position. “Fifteen years ago, we saw that consumers were becoming more concerned about antibiotic use in poultry, and we took a concerted effort to give less antibiotics and use them less routinely. Today, all of our chicken production is ‘no antibiotics ever,’ except in instances when birds actually get sick,” he says.
What has replaced antibiotics in Perdue’s chicken facilities? He accredits sanitation for playing a key role. “Understanding hatchery sanitation was probably the thing that took us the longest because it’s complicated and a critical step,” he says. “It takes work from both health and nutrition perspectives, at every point in the chain, from the breeder farm to the hatchery to the grow-out. It’s also important to have the farmer on board because the farmer is responsible for the overall care of the flock.”
He advises that from a feed standpoint the nutrition needs to be “stepped up” to make sure animals are fed very digestible protein sources and a balanced protein diet.
While these efforts work the majority of the time, Mitchell says that occasionally a flock gets sick. “Our veterinarians determine when a flock needs to be treated. If that’s the case, they are treated and the product is diverted into another use stream that doesn’t get a “no antibiotics” label, he explains.
According to Andrea Piva, PhD, president of Vetagro, the VIF was conceived eight years ago to be a unique platform for scientific and business engagement among university researchers and livestock and poultry company nutritionists. “Vetagro is committed to continuous exploration of science to advance our research to better understand how metabolism works in the animal, so we can use innovative technologies to advance animal nutrition,” Piva says. “The VIF is an excellent way to gather and share information.”
Vetagro is a science-driven, industry-leading microencapsulation animal nutrition company bringing a decidedly different approach to performance and growth. Specializing in novel combinations of nature-identical nutrients and additives to help maximize animal nutrition to meet today’s production needs, it is the only company in the world with more than three decades of experience in animal nutrition encapsulation.
Vetagro has been in the U.S. market since 2012 focused on working with university researchers and swine and poultry integrators nutritionists to evaluate and use its products in their operations, with positive outcomes. For more information, go to www.vetagro.com.