DSM Animal Nutrition & Health recently released a white paper focused on the use of feed acidifiers in commercial swine operations. The white paper, "Diet Acidification & the Merits of Benzoic Acid for Swine Nutrition & Sustainable Pork Production," was authored by DSM senior technical support manager Jon Bergstrom and highlights trials and research surrounding the use of organic acids.
In the white paper, Bergstrom said, “Organic acids and diet acidification are among the most viable avenues that are being considered to help maintain or improve the nutrition for pigs, both now and into the future.”
As organic acids have gained acceptance in recent years — whether because of antimicrobial resistance concerns, changing regulations or increasing consumer demand — experts are able to better evaluate the long-term use in feeding programs, the announcement said. Various acids have been used to acidify diets, but understanding the differences among the acids and their more specific benefits has been difficult.
“Unlike other acids, benzoic acid has shown more consistency in pig performance. Benzoic acid helps maintain performance with reduced dietary pH,” Bergstrom said. “The versatility of benzoic acid in swine feeds has been demonstrated, and it’s been effective in diets containing phytogenic compounds or flavorings, enzymes and even other acids.”
Benzoic acid research
According to DSM, recent trials in North America have shown consistent improvements in postweaning pig performance when 0.5% benzoic acid was used for feed acidification. A 2019 research report showed that average daily gain (ADG) and average daily feed intake (ADFI) increased for pigs fed diets with benzoic acid from day 0 to 21 postweaning, even when diets contained high levels of zinc oxide. Feed conversion also improved when 0.5% benzoic acid was added to diets with low zinc oxide.
In a 2020 study, researchers found that diets with 0.5% benzoic acid improved ADG and ending bodyweight during days 0-13 and 13-20 postweaning. Feed efficiency also improved from days 0 to 13, and there was a tendency for pigs fed diets containing any of the acids to have greater ADFI from days 13 to 20.
In addition to the nursery period, benzoic acid also showed benefits during the growing and finishing phases in some trials, DSM said.