Phytogenic Feed Additives Gaining Attention

PFAs can modulate gut microbiota which stabilizes gut health and functionality, thus supporting the immune system. ( John Maday )

Facing continued pressure to reduce antibiotic use, particularly for performance purposes, some livestock producers around the world are turning toward phytogenic feed additives. These natural, plant-derived additives include herbs, spices, essential oils and other compounds intended to promote growth through enhanced intake, antimicrobial effects, gut health and feed conversion.

Biomin, an international animal-nutrition company that markets phytogenic feed additives (PFAs) for cattle, swine and other animals, recently completed a global survey to measure trends in the use of those products in livestock operations.

According to Michael Noonan, MBA, Biomin’s global product line manager for phytogenics, the survey results show approximately 5% of global feed tonnage is supplemented with phytogenics. Among survey respondents, 51% use phytogenic feed additives and 60% indicate their PFA use will increase over the next 12 months. Digestibility enhancement and antimicrobial effects of PFAs continue to rank as the two top reasons for the application of PFAs in animal diets.

The global market for PFAs has reached around $600 million, and with around 6 to 8% annual growth, Noonan expects the market to reach $1 billion by 2022.

Noonan says PFAs can provide a range of effects beneficial to livestock. These include:

  • Stimulate endogenous secretions, one of the most important effects of phytogenics, which improves digestibility of nutrients, especially protein and most amino acids.
  • Modulate gut microbiota which stabilizes gut health and functionality, thus supporting the immune system.
  • Exert positive effects on the liver and stomach function, gut motility and a multitude of other bodily functions.
  • Reduce stressor-effects by downgrading inflammatory protein release and/or enhanced cyto-protective protein production, thus positively affecting metabolic processes and animal well-being.
  • Complex PFAs exert flavoring properties which are equivalent to conventional flavors.

While some producers include PFAs in the feed for all their animals, most concentrate on younger animals or specific production stages. Dairy producers, Noonan says, often supplement their milk replacer for young calves and include PFAs in starter feeds to encourage intake, nutrient digestibility and gut health. Dairy producers also use the additives in early lactation cows to improve feed intake, milk solids and milk protein content.

Read the full 2018 Biomin Phytogenic Feed Additive Survey results here.

A Biomin webinar on PFA trends and applications is available for on-demand viewing.