Relationship Between Economic Efficiency on Poultry Farms and Digestive Welfare
Feeding is one of the main production costs in the animal industry. Therefore, improving the feed conversion ratio enhances the economic performance of farms,...
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Feed Conversion and its Importance in the Economic Return
The conversion ratio is the parameter that indicates the animal’s ability to convert feed into body mass and is defined as the amount of feed required to increase one unit of weight.
Feeding is one of the main production costs in the animal industry. Therefore, improving the feed conversion ratio enhances the economic performance of farms, as less feed will be required to achieve the same weight and feed costs will be reduced.
A high feed conversion ratio indicates low animal efficiency, poor feed utilisation, and increased costs, thus it is essential to control the factors that negatively affect this parameter.
Pronutrient Deficiency and Worsening Feed Conversion Ratio
Achieving high productive performance determined by the genetic lines used on large-scale farms requires the utilization of concentrated feed formulas, which provide the necessary nutrients to the animals. However, when formulating, the pronutrient needs of the animals are often overlooked, resulting in organ function below physiological levels, which leads to a decline of production parameters and an increase in certain pathologies.
The reason is that pronutrients, active ingredients of natural origin, are essential for the proper functioning of organs by physiologically stimulating their genetic potential. They are classified into different groups according to their target organ, and among them, intestinal conditioners stand out as they directly influence the conversion rate. If they are not present in the feed formulation, the digestive mucosa deteriorates. Furthermore, it loses integrity and efficiency in its nutritional and defence functions, resulting in a poorer feed conversion rate.
Feed Efficiency Improvement with Intestinal Conditioner Pronutrients Supplementation in Diets
Intestinal conditioner pronutrients stimulate specific genes in enterocytes related to an enhancement of their physiological functions. The aim is to increase the surface area for nutrient absorption, improve intestinal villi, and the protective function of the intestinal epithelium, thereby increasing feed efficiency.
Its mechanism of action involves inducing the expression of specific genes in enterocyte DNA (e.g., CD1E and RIMBP2), which are related to the functions of enterocyte regeneration, nutrient absorption, and physiology.
The different trials carried out at the cellular level have allowed us to identify those genes stimulated by the action of intestinal conditioner pronutrients, including those related to intercellular adhesion (which improve tight junctions) and those linked to the absorption of nutrients such as vitamins, amino acids and pigments derived from the diet (graph 1).
By improving the cellular physiology of the enterocyte, they make the intestinal mucosa more resistant to infection, as the regenerated intestinal cells are in a better state, with stronger resistance and absorption capacity, and prevent the presence of undigested food in the intestine, which can act as a substrate for the growth of pathogens. For these reasons, they can replace antibiotic and other non-antibiotic growth promoters, thus avoiding the emergence of microbial resistance, as they do not act directly on the microorganisms but on the mucosa.
Multiple field trials have been conducted following scientific methodology on experimental and commercial farms globally to show that intestinal conditioner pronutrients enhance diet utilisation. As a result, the feed conversion ratio improves, generating higher gains at a much lower cost.
In a trial conducted in Asia, the effect of intestinal conditioner pronutrients in broilers was evaluated by comparing it to the use of butyrate (non-antibiotic growth promoter).
In the results, in terms of weight, the pronutrient group obtained the best results, finishing the trial with 81 g/bird more than the butyrate batch and 67 g/bird more than the control group. In addition, pronutrients made a significant improvement in feed conversion rate compared to the butyrate and the control batch.
These results indicate that, for every million chickens receiving a pronutrient diet compared to a control batch, 63 tonnes more meat would be produced, and 159 tonnes of feed would be saved.
Another trial conducted under commercial farm conditions in Europe showed the effect of intestinal conditioner pronutrients compared to the usual diet containing growth promoters commonly used in the region.
A 32-gram improvement in final weight (about 1.38% more weight) and a 1.46% improvement in feed conversion rate were observed with the use of intestinal conditioner pronutrients.
Enhancing the feed conversion ratio is critical to reduce costs in the animal industry for better economic performance. For this improvement, adding intestinal conditioner pronutrients in diets is essential (also in the drinking water, depending on the type of management), which are critical for proper digestive function.
Different in vitro trials have shown that these natural substances physiologically activate the cells of the intestinal epithelium, optimising their functions and improving the state of the digestive mucosa in order to achieve a higher weight with a lower feed consumption. Trials in broilers in various regions of the world have shown an increase in final weight of more than 80 grams per bird and a reduction in feed conversion ratio, with improvements in other parameters such as intestinal microbiology and efficiency index.
In addition, this technology, developed and patented by Biovet S.A., can replace antibiotic growth promoters and other chemicals. Due to their mechanism of action, these molecules of botanical origin do not generate microbial resistance, do not leave residues in the animals, and do not require a withdrawal period.
Intestinal conditioner pronutrients have been developed and patented by Biovet, S.A., and are marketed under the name Alquernat Nebsui.