BFQC examines challenges in feed digestibility


Day 3 of Asian Agribiz’s Broiler Feed Quality Conference (BFQC) streamed on Wednesday, offering strategies to improve digestibility and absorption of nutrients. Below are some highlights.

Challenges that hamper overall feed digestibility

To maximize feed absorption, producers must be aware of the ingredients that pose challenges to overall feed digestibility. “Looking at feed ingredients as a whole, there are around 20% of indigestible fraction. These mainly consist of anti-nutritional factors such as phytate, or different types of NSPases, beta-glucan, or cellulose, explained Dr Claire Xu, Regional Category Manager, Feed Digestibility of Adisseo Asia Pacific. She emphasized the importance of understanding the degradation and breakdown of arabinoxylan, which among the NSPs “represents the biggest portion at 8.6-9.4% of the total feed. This blocks the digestion of around 10-20% of the nutrients.”

Quantities of arabinoxylan vary among feed ingredients

Arabinoxylan is present in different quantities depending on the feed ingredient used, said Dr Xu. “We can look at existing databases that show the quantity of arabinoxylan and make predictions based on that.” For example, Adisseo’s database shows the arabinoxylan quantity present in corn, corn DDGS, wheat, and wheat bran. “For phytic phosphorus, we have a database available for most of the common feed ingredients. When using these feed ingredients, it is important to see the insoluble concentration of arabinoxylan that prevents the nutrients from being released,” she explained.

Fiber crucial to maintaining gut health

Fiber, as a substrate for fermentation, plays a pivotal role in maintaining gut health. Dr Xavière Rousseau, Global Technical Poultry Manager at AB Vista, said the optimum fiber to maintain intestinal health depends on the age of the animal, section of the gut, and fermentable protein levels. “The fiber type, the content of the fiber, and the ratio between undigestible protein are key to maintaining good gut health,” she said. All these will interfere with animal performance. Meanwhile, producers must move from crude fiber to individual or NSP, due to the value of the fiber in the diet, solubility, and fermentability.

Consequences of compromised gut health

Compromised gut health has serious consequences, warned Dr Rousseau. The first is digestibility reduction, which means fewer nutrients will be absorbed in the intestines. Second is the increase of endogenous losses. Third, it opens the door for pathogenic bacteria. Fourth is dysbiosis, which is an imbalance between protein and carbohydrate fermentation. Hence, the objective is to avoid dysbiosis. “We need to reduce protein fermentation because it produces toxic metabolites,” she pointed out. In addition, producers must promote beneficial fermentation, as fiber fermentation will produce organic acids. They must also avoid depletion of carbohydrates in the distal intestine.

Managing Editor and Editor of Asian Poultry Magazine, Jakarta, Indonesia. In ‘Biosecurity crucial amid AI challenges in 2023’, he outlines what is needed to get AI under control depending on how it affects the different regions.