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Determining nutritional matrix values for phytogenic feed additives through different methods

One of the objectives of any poultry producer is to feed the animals with balanced diets at the least cost. Feed constitutes the highest variable cost in poultry production, accounting for at least 60% of such costs, especially in an intensive rearing system. The nutritionist's role is to work with the tools available to deliver the best possible diet solution balancing cost and animal performance. Learn more about the effect of phytogenic feed additives on digestibility improvement.

Nutritional values have been established for some feed additives, allowing for cost savings when the additive is used in the diet. Its nutritional matrix is included in the feed optimization. However, the related research and data supporting the matrix values' development are of utmost importance to the nutritionist. The nutritional matrix values can be generated/validated in different ways. One is the traditional way, in vivo digestibility trials, an established and standard method for many years. Another option is via mathematical modeling, providing matrix values based on previous performance trial results.

Can mathematical modeling be as reliable as digestibility studies to generate and validate a feed additive nutritional matrix?

Digestibility studies to assay the nutrient utilization potential

Feed additives, such as NSP enzymes, phytases, proteases, and emulsifiers, have been assigned nutritional matrix values for many years. This nutritional value is then part of the entire diet's nutritional value, allowing for the reduction of the incorporation of some ingredients, such as those needed for energy (oil/ fat), protein (soybean), and minerals. In theory, as a result, this leads to a feed cost reduction while the animal maintains the same performance. Before a nutritional matrix value can be reached for the additive, several methods are employed to confirm the matrix values.

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One method is by using in vivo digestibility studies. Digestibility is currently the most widely used method for evaluating feedstuffs and diet formulation. The sampling time, site, and possible intake effects may all affect the outcomes/results of this type of trial. Typically, these kinds of studies are conducted in research institutes. If an ileal collection is required, such as amino acid digestibility in poultry, this requires animal sacrifice or surgical Ileal cannulation. This can lead to a considerable cost and low data replication to ensure the digestibility of the feed is correct.

Effect of phytogenic feed additives on digestibility improvement

The analysis of 16 ileal nutrient digestibility studies in both broilers and layers-fed corn/soy diets supplemented with a phytogenic feed additive demonstrated increased ileal digestibility of crude protein (CP), amino acids, fat, calcium, and phosphorus. The increase in CP digestibility from these trials is shown in Figure 1 (as the difference between CP digestibility of Delacon's PFA – CP digestibility Control). Delacon's Performizer solution is based on the results of these ileal nutrient digestibility studies. Those nutrient digestibility enhancements from PFA are transposed to nutrient matrix values and then applied to the least-cost feed formulation.

Nutritional modeling from performance enhancement data

Based on previous performance trial results and diet formulations, mathematical modeling can be used to validate the digestibility effects of a given feed additive used. A non-invasive method, like mathematical modeling, can be used to calculate digestibility. Furthermore, when considering all aspects of this method, a large amount of data from multiple performance trials can be used within the model - as you can use historical data to the present day. The model can account for diet nutritional content/values, age, breed, and trial length. Therefore, establishing a correlation between nutrient intake and the animal's performance and then applying that regression to the improved performance of the animals fed the PFA will provide a theoretical value for intake required for the enhanced performance result. This is the basis of the nutritional matrix value calculation. 

Good to know

Delacon undertook the 'mathematical modeling' technique to validate the digestibility and performance results observed from previous studies. The analysis included an impressive 79 broiler trials (from 2002 to 2022). Diet formulation, performance results, age, and breed were some of the critical inputs required for the model. The modeling results validated the existing nutritional matrix values obtained from the classic digestibility trials. You can contact your Delacon contact person from your region for more information.

Manu De Laet

Manu De Laet

Manu De Laet graduated in 2009 as a bio-engineer at the University of Leuven, Belgium. He has a master’s degree in animal production. After earning valuable experience with phytogenics, Manu started working for Delacon as Global Technical Manager Poultry in September 2018. He is now specialized in nutrition and the effect of phytogenics on digestibility.

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