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From animal nutrition to micro-nutrition — how to improve the health and performance of animals to better feed people

For livestock breeders, food can represent over 70% of production costs. That’s why the animal nutrition industry is ever-growing, weighing in at roughly 1 billion tonnes in 2016. Its goal is to meet the nutritional requirements of animals while ensuring their well-being and health, and to meet those of human beings as well by avoiding the frivolous use of antibiotics.

The challenges of animal nutrition

Animal nutrition should provide animals with a balanced diet that meets their particular needs, which vary according to species (fowl, ruminants, etc.), age, production level, specific requirements (weaning, growth, gestation, lactation, etc.).

That is why this industry is governed by extensive regulations covering aspects spanning from hygiene at breeding establishments to the labelling of food products. Regulations have been reinforced since the food crises of the 1990s in order to make products more traceable and to reassure consumers.

As a result, food safety, quality and hygiene are crucial. To that end, a great deal of controls are carried out on raw materials (e.g. residue on plants from chemicals and pesticides are not allowed) and the nutritional quality of animal food.

To each animal its own needs

To finalise an animal’s diet, the formulator weighs two factors — the animal’s needs and the food’s ability to meet those needs — and then decides on the least expensive balanced diet. To do this, the formulator has to make sure it contains all the necessary nutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates and fat. This is why the formulator has to choose suitable raw materials and ingredients prior to mixing them (to create a blend of ingredients, for example). Animals generally have two kinds of needs: maintenance (depending on weight, environment, etc.) and production (milk, meat, eggs).

Formulators are required to change their formulas constantly because each animal has its own specific needs and because the components, availability and prices of raw materials vary.

Premix and animal nutrition

An animal’s diet has to be balanced and provide what the animal needs (energy, protein, fibre, etc.). To achieve this, animal food comes in different forms, including:

  • raw materials (grains)
  • additives (vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, etc.)
  • compound feeding stuffs.

Minerals like calcium and phosphorous are equally as important as proteins and fibres. That is why formulators will incorporate multi-vitamin and mineral supplements (MMS) to include minerals in addition to those found in raw materials such as grains. If the food is nutritionally well-rounded, the formulator will add a premix  to the food directly. It is a high quality premix consists of vitamins, trace elements or amino acids, essential to the balanced composition of animal feed.

Micro-nutrition, the future of nutrition and health

Phileo, our Business Unit dedicated to animal Nutrition & Health, is developing a range of solutions that help optimise performance and prevent illness when added to the premix.

One such solution is Actisaf©, an exclusive strain of active yeast that acts as a probiotic for intestinal health and microbiota. Its patented technology resists the thermal treatment applied to granulated industrial foods up to 92 °C. Other prebiotics such as SafMannan© round out nutritional programmes by strengthening resistance to heat stress and pathogenic bacteria and by supporting natural defences.

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