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Natural growth promoters: features of choice for poultry and swine

Published on: 1/6/2021
Author/s : Biovet Alquermes

Intensive farming is drastically increasing yearly in South East Asia to comply with the growing demand of animal protein of the region. Intensive farming has been possible worldwide thanks to the genetic improvements and technologic and productive investments done, which have allowed to reduce the breeding period while increasing the benefits.

Animals are under a high pressure in this production system to achieve the desired productive parameters, which makes them more sensible to the challenges they are exposed to. The main target of the livestock industry is to maximise animal growth and efficiency. During the last decades, this target has been achieved in intensively challenged animals using chemical growth-promoting substances added in feed.

Antibiotic Growth Promoters (AGPs) have been one of the most commonly used additives for such purposes in poultry and swine industries, showing a positive effect on feed digestion while decreasing the intestinal load of pathogens that may be present in the digestive system. AGPs are used at sub therapeutic doses and their abusive use has led to the appearance of multiple negative consequences, such as the appearance of bacterial resistances in animal and human medicine.

In the last years, there is a trend towards the reduction and limitation of the use of antibiotics in animal production due to this collateral effect. Regulations have been established in most of the countries of South East Asia, and there is also a tendency of the consumers to reject products that may contain traces of AGPs.

Now, more than ever, there should be a tight collaboration between health professionals (nutritionist and veterinarians, among others) and farmers, to comply with a wise and rational utilisation of antibiotics and research for natural alternatives to maintain the productivity and efficiency of the farms in the region.


In order to choose the proper natural solution, as an alternative to antibiotics, there should be several features that should be assessed:

-       Efficacy: it is essential to work with products with a wide field experience, tested under several conditions and with proven efficacy.

-       Use of chemically defined extracts: they are key to ensure that the solutions are manufactured under a standardized concentration of active molecules and, therefore, they can guarantee that a homogeneous effect is achieved with different batches of the product.

-       Known and demonstrated mechanism of action: it is basic to understand the functioning of the active principles to link the correct applications to each product.

-       Usability: it is important to have solutions that can be applied in feed and drinking water to comply with needs and requirements of the farmers.

Natural solutions based on intestinal conditioner pronutrients comply with all these premises.



Intestinal conditioner pronutrients are natural solutions with a demonstrated metagenetic mechanism of action, which optimize the enterocyte function and regeneration. Thanks to these molecules, the intestinal mucosa has a better structure and offers an improved nutrient absorption capacity and a stronger barrier to external challenges.

The effect of intestinal conditioner pronutrients is visible at naked eye (Pictures 1 and 2) and at electronic microscopy (Pictures 3 and 4).

 Natural growth promoters: features of choice for poultry and swine - Image 1

Picture 1 (left): Gut that dit NOT receive pronutrients, showing inflammation and liquid content.

Picture 2 (right): Gut that HAD received pronutrients, with a better integrity and no signs of inflammation nor congestion.

Natural growth promoters: features of choice for poultry and swine - Image 2

Picture 3 (left): Gut that did NOT receive pronutrients, showing undigested feed attached to an irregular structure of the villi.

Picture 4 (right): GUT that HAD received pronutrients, showing a better villi organization and length, as well as the absence of undigested feed attached.

Therefore, intestinal conditioner pronutrients are of great utility when used continuously, to replace chemical growth promoters, as they have a gut enhancer effect, promoting gut development and adaptation to diet changes in growing animal, like broilers and pigs, and can have also a positive effect in adult animals like layer hens, breeder hens and sows.

In both cases, either growing and adult animals, the improvement in the gut function will also be demonstrated in the productivity results obtained. By assessing productive parameters, the effect of intestinal conditioner pronutrients has been corroborated in each productive aptitude and will be introduced below:

1.    Pronutrients in broilers

In the case of broilers, the improved gut functionality will enhance growth and FCR, and animals will show a higher daily weight gain while lower feed intake is required. In addition, carcass features and yield are also improved.

This fact can be seen in Table 1, where Pronutrients obtained 370 grams more of weight at same date, while consuming 147 grams less of feed, compared to a group using AGPs.

Table 1. Evaluation of the performance of a commercial broiler farm comparing the continuous use of Antibiotic Growth Promoters (AGPs) and Intestinal Conditioner Pronutrients (Pronutrients).


2.     Pronutrients in layers and breeders

In laying and breeding hens, pronutrients have a positive impact on gut development and welfare during the rearing period, to achieve a proper uniformity and weight of the batch.

During the laying period, pronutrients are intended to boost productivity (Table 2) and egg quality and weight. In the case of breeders, the effect of pronutrients will also be seen as an improvement of the hatchability and chick quality.

Trial made in 85 weeks-old laying hens shows how pronutrients can improve the egg laying rate (+6.5%) while decreasing Feed Conversion Rate (FCR) by 4%. In addition, it is demonstrated that the increase in the number of eggs caused by pronutrients does not have a negative impact on egg weight nor the eggshell resistance.

Table 2. Evaluation of the effect of Intestinal Conditioner Pronutrients in 85 weeks-old laying hens.

3.        Pronutrients in pigs

The use of pronutrients is highly recommended in swine, where feed represents a major cost and diarrhea is one of the main problems at specific stages of the growing cycle. Pronutrients can also be applied for specific periods, if the conditions of the farm require it.

Per example, pronutrients are a key tool to work on post-weaning diarrhea, instead of using antibiotics or zinc oxide (Table 3), as the utilisation of these products is being limited by the regulation due to the negative impact they have on microbial resistances and environment.

As it can be seen in the Table 3, pronutrients are an effective replacement for zinc oxide, with demonstrated effectivity to improve growth parametersbut also to decrease the diarrhea ratio and severity, as animals were able to achieve a higher final weight and the ratio of diarrhea was decreased by ~40%.

Table 3. Evaluation of the performance and diarrhea ratio of postweaned piglets comparing the use of zinc oxide and Intestinal Conditioner Pronutrients (Pronutrients).

 Another critical stage in pig production is the end of the fattening stage, during the withdrawal period of antibiotics. In this case, the use of pronutrients (Table 4), which can be used continuously without withdrawal period, allowed to reduce the FCR, which is of great importance at the moment where the feed intake is the highest.

Table 4. Evaluation of the performance of finisher pigs receiving Intestinal Conditioner Pronutrients (Pronutrients) for the last 30 days before slaughter.


 4.        Pronutrients in sows

In sows, digestive problems caused by the proliferation of bacteria in the gut can reduce fertility. These bacteria may produce toxins and evolve to septicaemia, and cause problems such as MMA syndrome.

It is demonstrated that gut status will be better thanks to the use of pronutrients, improving faeces consistency and having a positive impact on the issues caused by gut bacterial proliferation. In farms suffering from such bacterial challenges, thanks to the use of pronutrients, it can be observed a better fertility rate and prevention of MMA syndrome.


Animals in intensive farming are under a high pressure to achieve the desired efficiency, making them prone to suffer from any infectious challenge that may appear. In the last decades, the solutions used have been based on chemical products, as a “patch” to cover the deficiencies of the animals.

The use of antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) has led to multiple negative consequences, such as the appearance of bacterial resistances in animal and human medicine. This fact has made the authorities to limit their use in animal production in South East Asia.

The solution for an efficient farming in South East Asia without the use of chemicals is based on rediscovering the power of nature, by using natural alternatives, like intestinal conditioner pronutrients, which optimize gut function and have a demonstrated positive effect on productivity and efficiency of poultry (~9% reduction in FCR) and swine farming (better final weight and FCR while diarrhea ratio can be decreased by ~40%).

Pronutrients comply with the features needed to be ensured by products marketed as natural growth promoters, as it is demonstrated in this article: they are formulated with chemically defined extracts, they have a well-known demonstrated metagenetic mechanism of action and they have been widely tested in commercial conditions with successful results.

In addition, this solution is available for conventional and organic production either in powder and liquid presentation to suit the needs of each farmer.

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