Innovations for Reducing Antibiotic Dependence

Reducing the development of antibiotic resistance has become the hottest topic in poultry production over the past two years. Many high-profile poultry integrators, retailers, and food service giants have declared their intention to eliminate the use of in-feed growth-promoting antibiotics (of human importance), with some already achieving significant milestones towards their reduced use.

The reason is to address the significant concerns over the development and transmission of antibiotic resistance to potentially pathogenic bacteria in humans, or so-called “superbugs.” While there is debate about the relative contribution of antibiotic use in animal agriculture to the development of resistant bacteria, we, as an industry, have a responsibility to mitigate this risk where possible, thereby ensuring that our limited toolbox of antibiotics maintain their effectiveness in treating humans, as well as our food production animals.

Alternative feeding programs:

To help address these consumer concerns, alternative feeding programs have been developed, and Trouw Nutrition Canada has been at the forefront of developing and validating new innovations (Canadian Poultry Magazine, April 2016). More recently, two new Selko® additives, Selko Elarom® Poultry and Selko ProHydro®, were evaluated under field conditions as components of an alternative feeding program without antibiotic growth promoters.

Selko Elarom® Poultry is a nutritional copper supplement with a proprietary blend of short and medium chain fatty acids and a phenolic compound. We benchmarked the relative performance of mixed sex broilers (Ross 708) under field conditions in Ontario, comparing birds fed Selko Elarom® Poultry (22 flocks; 614,550 birds) or Albac (55 ppm bacitracin; 18 flocks; 514,692 birds) in the spring and summer of 2016. All birds were fed a common anticoccidial program of Nicarbazin and Biocox in the starter, and Biocox in the grower phase with a plain withdrawal diet.

Similar to our earlier experience with our first generation antibiotic alternative program, Selko Elarom® Poultry supported similar performance in terms of average market weights, feed conversion, and mortality (see Fig. 1), with the advantage that it is also more cost effective than our original program.

Figure 1: Selko Elarom® Poultry field validation performance results in Ontario (spring 2016)

Selko Elarom Poultry field validation performance results in Ontario Spring 2016

While our Western Canada validation used fewer flocks, we note a similar positive effect on broiler performance using Selko Elarom® Poultry compared to a BMD/Surmax medicated program (Table 1), and confirm similar responses noted in a controlled R&D study at Trouw Nutrition Agresearch.

Table 1: Selko Elarom® Poultry field validation performance results in Manitoba (spring 2016) relative to a BMD/Surmax medication program.

Selko Elarom Poultry field validation performance results in Manitoba Spring 2016

Don't forget water

Water, while being the most important nutrient in poultry production, is rarely discussed. That being said, a number of water acidification products are available to enhance water quality. However, many of these products are largely composed of inorganic acids, which run the risk of uncontrolled pH drops, potentially leading to reduced feed intake and lower performance. While producers typically target a water pH of 5.5-6.5, Trouw Nutrition Canada has introduced a new organic water acidifier, Selko ProHydro®, a blend of free and buffered organic acids, which targets a pH of 3.8 where efficacy is highest (dissociated acids). The buffered acid blend reduces the risks associated with competitive products, especially when targeting a lower pH of 3.8.

A field validation using eight commercial farms compared the effects of different water acidification strategies in the spring and summer of 2016. We compared four broiler flocks in which drinking water was supplemented with Selko ProHydro® with a target pH of 3.8-4.0 with four flocks in which drinking water was supplemented with inorganic acidification products with a target pH of 5.5-6.0. The performance results showed numerical  improvements in market weights and a significant improvement in adjusted feed conversion (Table 2). Similar results were obtained with a controlled
semi-commercial validation at the Trouw Nutrition Agresearch facilities. Furthermore, global data also demonstrated enhanced litter quality and a  consequent reduction in the severity and proportion of birds with foot pad lesions.

Table 2: Relative performance effects on broilers given acidified drinking water using Selko ProHydro® (target pH 3.8-4.0) or an inorganic acid blend (target pH 5.5-6.0).

Relative performance effects on broilers

Our continued investment in research and innovation, including novel feed additives, is aimed at maintaining and improving producer performance and profitability in light of ever-changing consumer demands. Producing poultry without medically important antibiotics can be done safely and in an economically sustainable way without affecting performance, and perhaps most importantly, will contribute to safeguarding the use of our limited supply of antibiotics for what they are truly needed for: treating diseases.

Contact us to learn more about these innovative products.