Feed Transit in Poultry
An animal’s digestive system plays an essential role in converting the feed the animal eats, into the nutrients its body needs for growth, and production...
An animal’s digestive system plays an essential role in converting the feed the animal eats, into the nutrients its body needs for growth, and production. In most animals, the first step of the digestion is a mechanical digestion, by chewing the feed. In case of poultry, they do not have teeth and swallow up food whole, and the mechanical digestion is made in the gizzard.
As for other productive species, the most important part of the digestion is the chemical digestion, as it is when the feed is transformed into the nutrients that can be observed by the enterocytes. This chemical digestion depends on the activity of the digestive enzymes and the different fluids excreted along their digestive system. The time the feed is in contact with these enzymes and fluids, which is known as feed transit time, plays an important role in the digestion of the feed and at the end in the performance of the flock.
However, intensive poultry farming resulted in birds having rapid intestinal transit that prevents the feed from remaining in the intestine long enough for the complete absorption of nutrients. As a result, frequent problems arise like undigested feed in the excreta and watery feces. Problems like these have a negative impact on animals’ performance and health.
New Breakthrough – Alquerfeed Diatom
Biovet S.A. has recently developed a new product, Alquerfeed Diatom. It is a natural product based on diatoms Thalassiosira (figure 1) and Actinoptychus (figure 2).
These are activated diatomaceous earth, that is, fossilized remains of unicellular aquatic organisms whose skeletons are made up of a natural substance called silica, which has been subjected to an activation process to improve their mechanism of action.
The mechanism of action of Alquerfeed Diatom is based on the capacity of diatoms to bind water molecules present in the feed bolus and to acidify the intestine, reducing the intestinal content volume and peristalsis.
Alquerfeed Diatom reduces water amount by forming hydrogen bonds between the silicate and the OH– groups from H2O molecules. This results in free H+, with the consequent acidification of the intestinal pH. This lowered pH improves at the same time feed digestion in the gut (figure 3).
This product affects the intestinal transit of animals since it slows it down to increase the retention time of the feed in the digestive tract and acidifies. In this way, Alquerfeed Diatom increases the time of contact of feed with the digestive enzymes and intestinal microvilli in charge of nutrient absorption and acidifies the intestine improving feed digestion.
Research done with 440 broiler chickens showed that Alquerfeed Diatom increased the retention time in the digestive tract by around 16 minutes. This led to enhanced nutrient digestibility and productivity of the animals, achieving higher final weight (+92 g/bird), improved FCR (-3.8%), better uniformity (+4%), a gain in breast yield, and less mortality rate.
Return of Investment
In terms of economic performance, considering the results obtained in the mentioned trial, a farm with one million broiler chickens and using 2 MT of Alquerfeed Diatom would save 224 MT of feed and produce 92 MT more of meat. This positive impact sure outweighs the investment.