As nutritionists and producers investigate alternative feeding strategies to meet today’s animal nutrition challenges and market demands, interest in phytogenic feed additives is high. Poultry and livestock producers are keen to understand how phytogenics work compared to, or in conjunction with, conventional antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs). Stacie Appleton, Ph.D., regional technical manager poultry at Delacon USA, answers common questions regarding the usage and quality of phytogenics.
Feeding and using phytogenics
Q. Can phytogenics be used in combination with AGPs, rather than replacing them?
A. Phytogenics can be successfully implemented in conventional, AGP-free or antibiotic-free nutrition programs. The first step for determining a feeding strategy is to evaluate the goals for production and desired benefits of inclusion of a phytogenic feed additive, then consider the modes of action of the products. Phytogenics offer complex modes of action that can support growth performance, facilitate nutrient digestibility and support intestinal health.
Q. Do phytogenics face issues with microbial resistance, and should the products be rotated?
A. The use of phytogenics bears no risk of resistance development due to a function called quorum sensing inhibition, which helps reduce the virulence of bacteria, rather than killing them. Therefore, no rotation of products is necessary.
Q. How long should phytogenics be fed? Is the entire life of the animal necessary, or is early phase feeding adequate?
A. Naturally, the duration of phytogenic product inclusion will depend on the goal for production and beneficial effects calculated with consideration to a cost and benefits balance. Feeding phytogenic products with broad efficacy and proven effects is recommended during the entire growth period.
Q. Would you recommend essential oils as a standalone tool against coccidiosis?
A. At Delacon, we do not use essential oils alone. First, not every essential oil has anticoccidial effects. Second, the effects of combining essential oils with other phytogenic ingredients, which may have anti-inflammatory effects or support immune function, are generally greater than the effects of a single ingredient. Combination products offer synergistic effects due to having multiple modes of action.
Quality and safety of phytogenics
Q. Knowing the quality of feed ingredients can vary by origin, how is the quality of phytogenics guaranteed?
A. The main active compounds in phytogenics can have variations in their concentrations depending on their source and location of origin due to growth conditions, plant breed or methods of isolation. However, there are several quality management procedures that can be implemented to ensure product. For example, at Delacon we follow specific procedures:
- Working with certified suppliers who guarantee the supply of raw materials according to purchase specifications
- Analyzing the delivered raw materials in our on-site lab to ensure conformity to specifications
- Implementing audited and standardized production technology, microencapsulation processes, final product analyses and shelf life testing for the end product
Q. How is the safety of phytogenics guaranteed, considering they may include complex mixtures and hard to define substances?
A. All of the sources of the individual phytogenic compounds have GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status. There is no safety risk, even for combinations of ingredients. Beyond GRAS status, combinations are tested first in tissue culture models to confirm there are no antagonistic effects in animals. Zootechnical registration of a phytogenic product is another validation of safety along the feed-to-food chain.
Do you have specific questions regarding phytogenics and how they work? Check out www.gutstogrow.com for more information and resources.