Balchem has been perfecting the art of microencapsulation for more than 50 years and has spent nearly 30 years applying this technology to dairy animals to protect compounds from ruminal degradation. Balchem launched its first animal nutrition product - ReaShure® Precision Release Choline - in late 1999.
Through encapsulation, ReaShure passes safely through the rumen to the abomasum and small intestine to effectively deliver choline, an essential nutrient required by dairy cows. Studies conducted at universities and on farms have shown that feeding rumen protected choline to dairy cows promotes animal health, improves reproductive function and increases milk yield, delivering higher profitability. The newest research also identifies epigenetic benefits for the in utero calf.
Over the years, Balchem Animal Nutrition & Health has expanded its encapsulated product portfolio and brought new innovations to the market. The company’s latest introduction, ReaShure®-XC, which delivers 60% choline chloride, was launched earlier this year. The new product, which is currently available in the EMEA markets, is supported by two decades of research including 40 research studies across multiple species and 25 peer reviewed papers. The product features Balchem’s proprietary encapsulation technology, which has been optimised for feed stability, rumen protection and greater intestinal availability.
Samuel-Pierre Camus, EMEA Director, and Stefano Vandoni, EMEA Technical Service Manager Balchem Animal Nutrition & Health were happy to answer our questions about the product’s conception and its benefits, as well as what to next expect from ReaShure in the market
[Samuel-Pierre Camus] Dairy farmers are living in challenging and extraordinary times, with extreme pressure on milk prices and a continued focus on improving farm sustainability and animal welfare. As dairy farmers look to the future, they are relying on companies and suppliers to provide the tools to accomplish these goals. In the feed segment, the number of new additives has greatly increased during the last decades, especially after the ban of antibiotics and animal growth promoters. Dairy farmers today are overwhelmed with information and offers for products, all promising results. They are challenged to choose among a huge variety of products and brands, all with different characteristics and varying levels of performance. This leads to confusion, making it difficult to determine which products will provide the best return on investment while improving livestock efficiencies. Compounding this confusion are inconsistent results when products are tested with different in vitro methods, giving results not directly comparable between each other, and not always backed up by proper in vivo trials. Dairy farmers should look to products validated with peer reviewed, in vivo data when making decisions on which ingredients to feed to their cattle.
[Feedinfo] How has Balchem become a leader in the field of encapsulated products? Can you tell us about your history in this area and how you got to this point?
[Samuel-Pierre Camus] Balchem has been a leader in both animal and human encapsulation techniques since the company was started in 1967. Through intense research into optimal coatings and a dedication to perfecting core dynamics for each nutrient, we are constantly improving both the technology and our individual products. Our most recent coating innovation is our new X-Technology, which has been applied to our AminoShure and ReaShure lines, making them more effective and cost efficient for our customers. Watch for more products incorporating the XTechnology in the coming years.
[Feedinfo] With formulators having to make difficult decisions about which additives to invest in, why do you believe choline products should be at the top of their list of priorities?
[Samuel-Pierre Camus] For many years choline has been recognised as essential for humans and many animal species. Choline plays a pivotal role in a series of critical functions within the body: it improves fat transport and metabolism in the liver; serves as a source of methyl donors for methionine regeneration; builds and maintains cell membrane structure; supports nervous system function; serves as a source of osmolytes that regulate cell volume. Numerous human clinical trials and animal research studies have shown a consistent response to choline supplementation. In dairy cows, choline has a positive impact on both animal health and milk production.
[Stefano Vandoni] Decades of university and on-farm research shows that rumenprotected choline serves many roles and is essential for health and productivity, impacting cow performance and supporting a smooth transition. Choline is shown to deliver milk production responses, increase dry matter intake pre- and post-calving and and reduce the incidence of metabolic disorders as supported by several peerreviewed papers and a recent meta-analysis. New studies also demonstrate improved growth and survivability of calves born to cows supplemented with choline during late gestation.
[Samuel-Pierre Camus] While some may consider rumen-protected choline an expensive ingredient, it is important to keep in mind that rumen protected choline is only supplemented during a relatively short period of time (the 42 days of transition) but it delivers benefits throughout the animal’s entire life and even to future generations through the in utero calf.
[Feedinfo] What are the drivers behind increased rumen-protected choline consumption in the marketplace in the last years?
[Stefano Vandoni] New research findings in the field of choline have led to a change in customers’ perception of choline and a great interest in the full value choline delivers to the cow.
Instead of being seen as simply a feed additive, choline is now accepted as an essential nutrient for dairy cows. Also, rumen-protected choline, initially targeted at helping cows transition more smoothly into lactation, is now proven to deliver the benefits of improved milk and component production, increased feed efficiency and reduced incidence of metabolic disorders, regardless of body condition score. When including the recently discovered benefits of improved health and growth in calves, ReaShure-XC supplementation can deliver a return on investment as high as 23 to 1. And though not all cows respond the same, research proves that delivering choline during transition leads to a substantial return from a small investment. It’s now crystal-clear cows need supplemental choline during the transition period. It has been demonstrated that even in the presence of other methyl donors, only choline has a clear impact on very-lowdensity lipoprotein (VLDL) production, necessary to export fat from the liver.
[Feedinfo] Can you tell us about the development of ReaShure-XC?
[Samuel-Pierre Camus] ReaShure-XC combines unique core advancements with innovative coating engineering to deliver the most researched, effective and costefficient form of rumen-protected choline on the market today. ReaShure-XC has a new pure choline crystal core delivering a higher, more concentrated payload while eliminating the need for a carrier. The concentrated formulation reduces the carbon footprint due to lower emissions per unit of choline delivered to customers.
The encapsulation technology behind ReaShure-XC is Balchem’s X-Technology, which carefully balances feed stability, rumen stability and intestinal release to deliver the active ingredient efficiently and cost effectively. ReaShure-XC is manufactured in Balchem’s European facility of Bertinoro, Italy and is currently marketed in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
[Feedinfo] Can you share some findings from the trials conducted with ReaShureXC?
[Stefano Vandoni] With more than two decades of university research, on-farm data and composite summaries, ReaShure-XC Precision Release Choline is the most extensively researched and tested encapsulated choline on the market today. Research from the University of CaliforniaDavis and the University of Florida showed a measurable reduction in metabolic disorders including ketosis, displaced abomasum and subclinical milk fever when cows were fed ReaShure. University of Florida data demonstrated the lactation-long impact choline delivers on milk production. Cows fed ReaShure during transition had higher peaks and produced an additional 2.1 kg of milk per day. That resulted in 640.5 kg more milk over the 305-day lactation. And finally, research now shows the link between in utero exposure to choline and calf health and productivity after birth. Calves exposed to choline in utero grew faster and were 36 kg heavier at first calving. Heifers that received colostrum from cows fed ReaShure had more efficient absorption of IgG and lower incidence of fever during the first 21 days of life.
[Feedinfo] What are Balchem’s next steps for research in this field?
[Stefano Vandoni] Balchem’s purpose is to continue to be a pioneer in choline research and encapsulation technology, further exploring the mechanisms hidden behind positive responses consistently shown in scientific trials and on farm. Our newest research focuses on concepts such as metabolomics or epigenetics. Epigenetics has been the focus of a couple of research studies recently conducted at the University of Florida by Dr. José Santos, looking closely at the nutrigenomic role of choline on heifer growth and health performance.
Another major topic we continue to investigate is a better system to correctly evaluate choline bioavailability when fed in a protected form to dairy cows. Choline is used by the organism to produce many different metabolites. Finding a specific marker to identify the bioavailability of any rumen-protected choline is still a topic we are investigating. While there have been many attempts both in vitro and in situ to achieve this target, the results have been quite inconsistent across different methodologies. That’s why Balchem believes in the cow being the ultimate judge of the efficacy of any rumen-protected choline. “Cows never lie”.
Manager Balchem Animal Nutrition & Health were happy to answer our questions about the product’s conception and its benefits, as well as what to next expect from ReaShure in the market