Good Bacteria in Animal Feed
Probiotics are beneficial for the intestines—including those of chickens. But which probiotic bacteria are especially effective as supplements in animal feed? Evonik is developing innovative solutions for a growing market. The aim is to have healthy chickens while boosting efficiency on poultry farms.
For chickens to stay healthy, they need to receive good, nutrition-rich feed day after day. That’s because healthy and balanced nutrition strengthens the immune system and ensures that the chickens don’t get sick in the first place.
The gut plays a key role in this process. The intestine’s mucous membrane contains more lymphocytes than any other part of the body. These help the body to recognize pathogens and foreign bodies and render them harmless. The intestinal flora, in turn, consists of many microorganisms that help digestion and additionally stabilize the immune system.
Probiotics strengthen the gut
To promote chickens’ intestinal health, it’s especially important to colonize their intestinal flora with bacteria that, through a complex interaction, have a positive influence on health and gut integrity of the gut. Potentially harmful bacteria should be replaced with health-promoting bacteria;, and probiotics are characterized by their ability to either maintain a balanced intestinal flora, or indeed to regenerate itan unbalanced gut flora. They have a stabilizing effect at various points along the digestive tract.
For example, because of their wide range of effects Bacillus bacteria are a very good choice as probiotic feed supplements. They promote the chickens’ feed digestionhelp to metabolize feed and promote chickens’, health, and growth. This benefits not only the animals themselves, but also farmers and consumers.
To deepen their understanding of how probiotics work, and which types of bacteria are especially good for the intestinal flora of chickens, the scientists at Evonik are working together with technology providers such as the Belgian company ProDigest BVBA. They have developed a chicken gut simulation model that the researchers are using to investigate the interplay between feed, the immune system, and the intestinal flora.
New products on the market
The research has already produced its first results: In 2017 Evonik launched an internally developed probiotic called GutCare®, which it launched in the USA, China, India, and Bangladesh. This product promotes the growth and health of broilers over the long term. In Europe, Evonik has been marketing products such as Ecobiol® since its acquisition of the probiotics business of the Spanish company Norel in July 2016. Ecobiol®,This probiotic is a fast-growing bacteria strain called Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, which promotes a gut flora that maintains a balance between useful lactic acid bacteria and undesired potential pathogens such as Salmonella enteritidis.
The probiotic market
Today 8.2 percent of all the probiotics that are produced are used in animal feed, and 82.3 percent are used in food and beverages. In 2015 the total annual sales of probiotic feed additives amounted to about $900 million. Poultry farming was the most important customer category, representing 35 percent of the total. The biggest sales market is Europe (32 percent), followed by Asia (27 percent) and North America (23 percent).
The market for probiotics in animal feed has great development potential. Evonik has proved to be a reliable partner of its customers in this business area. The focus is on the combination of products, services, and knowledge. Modern chicken farming is provided with high-quality feed additives as well as individual consultation and expert information about how these products work.