Author: Shikha Sinha
The demand for animal feed additives has been thriving extensively since the last few years, a feat that can be majorly attributed to the rising consumption of meat and poultry food products worldwide. Indeed, animal feed additives play a crucial role in ensuring that the quality and health of source livestock are maintained to their highest standards. Enhancing animal feed with various nutrients and substances can help to improve digestion and weight gain in animals, besides preventing the occurrence of diseases.
Everyday meals in many regions across the world mostly comprise of pork, fish and eggs, often defining the food economics of the area and stimulating the regional demand for animal-based food. It has become extremely vital for producers to guarantee the all-round wellbeing of their livestock, generating significant demand for nutritional feed products. On this note, it is vital to mention that the worldwide animal feed additives market has been projected to reach a valuation of more than $25 billion by 2024.
It has long been suggested that meals constituted only of basic raw materials such as soybean, maize and fat do not contain all essential nutrients, rendering the feed inadequate for animals to achieve optimal performance. Subsequently, ingredients like vitamins, enzymes and amino acids are added to the livestock food through supplements for countering issues like low digestibility, microbial contamination, color as well as to improve the complete nutritional value.
As human and animal health are directly related to each other depending on food intake patterns, food health and safety regulators have also increased their focus on the quality of animal products supplied to manufacturers and delivered in stores.
Globally, there have been numerous cases of disease outbreaks resulting from infected animals being consumed, while in some scenarios farmers or breeders have experienced significant losses when their livestock die of sickness. The most recognized instances could be the eruption of swine flu a few years ago or occurrences of bird flu in China reported recently. In addition to veterinary care for avoiding such occurrences, suitable animal feed additives used in the right amounts and administered efficiently have the potential to enhance the overall health of animals destined to be served on the table.
A notable portion of this growth can expectedly be attributed to the pets segment, as the purchase and adoption of domesticated animals is also on the rise. Feed additives can enhance the diets of pet animals to strengthen their bones and joints, enrich hair color and growth, along with protecting them against illness.
Enumerating key feed additives with regards to their impact on animal quality and health:
The growing population worldwide, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, will create tremendous demand for animal food and bring with it significant challenges to sustain food quality and production over the coming decades. Constant rise in the consumption of packaged meat and the emergence of key trends like ready-to-eat meals will pertinently lead to the implementation of stringent quality control measures.
Add to that, the high impact of meat production on the environment will further compel producers to use additives capable of reducing their energy footprint. Over the first three months of 2019 more than 85 million tons of meat was already eaten globally, indicating massive opportunities for the use of various animal feed additives.
Amino Acids: Farmers are now encouraged to add amino acids to the feed or cattle, pig or poultry livestock for improving protein utilization by the animals and to contribute in protecting the environment. Besides protein supply, a key advantage of these ingredients is that they could be an eco-friendly alternative to soy-based feed.
A study found that adding amino acid mixture to animal feed instead of supplementary rapeseed or soy, reduced the greenhouse effect in poultry farming by a factor of 27, while for pig farming it showed a reduction by a factor of 13. As sustainable nutrition gains traction in the years to come, amino acids as animal feed additives will also witness considerable consumption, especially as animals cannot produce all amino acids within their bodies.
Antioxidants: Along with other dietary additives, antioxidants have also emerged as a key product since they help in improving animal health and survival, as well as reproductive performance. Essentially, antioxidants can be added to animal diet for preventing the oxidation of the feed and ultimately enhance the stability and shelf life of meat.
In poultry production, for example, lipid oxidation can affect the food consumed by animals and the animals themselves, deteriorating the shelf life and quality of animal-sourced food meant for human consumption. Antioxidants can reverse the harmful effects of lipid oxidation, making them a vital feed additive with the growing processed and frozen food trend.
Enzymes: Owing to medical issues caused by consuming unhealthy animal products and packaged food, governments are coercing producers to abstain from using growth-inducing chemicals or drugs. Animal feed supplemented with enzymes could help to enhance the quality of animal food naturally, while also improving the output.
Enzymes increase the efficiency of raw material digestion and depending on what type of enzyme is added, they offer benefits like lowered diet costs and reduced energy footprint due to better digestion. A corn-soybean feed is said to be only 85% digestible, with the remaining share of these expensive materials rendered unusable. Enzymes are therefore important to ensure that maximum nutritional value is delivered to animals, particularly the young ones.
Vitamins: For improving the growth, maintenance, and milk production of livestock, vitamins and minerals are considered crucial in the diets of cattle, goats and sheep, and the naturally grazed food of these animals does not always contain a vital balance of these nutrients. Seemingly, the deficiency of certain vitamins can lower the life expectancy of animals and their productivity, due to issues like bone deformities.
In poultry, vitamin animal feed additives can help to provide proper nutrition needed to counter the stress of being raised in demanding conditions. Mixing of the right vitamins, according to the species and their nutritional requirements, can lead to improved meat or egg quality, extended shelf life and translates to better availability of essential nutrients for human consumption.
In recent times, even though the demand for vegan food and the development of plant-based meat products is on the rise, poultry and meat products seem to retain their position as the most favored food categories in most countries. But as customers become more aware about the food they eat and demand more sustainably produced meat, dairy and fish, animal feed additives will be pivotal in meeting consumer expectations and keeping pace with increased global consumption.