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New Generation of Vetagro Products Combine Botanicals and Microencapsulation to Tackle Pig and Poultry Health Issues - INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVES

Source: Vetagro via Feedinfo

With pig and poultry producers facing ever-greater challenges in their livestock enterprises, new options to ensure optimal animal health are crucial.

For Vetagro, combining specific botanicals with microencapsulation technology gives the ability to tackle animal health issues on multiple levels by delivering bioactive compounds to selected target sites.

In this Industry Perspectives piece, Ester Grilli, VP and Head of Marketing and Innovation at Vetagro, discusses this approach, which is at the forefront of the company’s new AviPower® line, and its plans for further development.

Her colleague, Benedetta Tugnoli, Global Technical Innovation Manager, discusses how the new line positively influences weaning performance in pigs, as well as how it is helping poultry producers become more effective in tackling coccidiosis in their flocks.


[Feedinfo] When we last spoke to you for an INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVES piece, you mentioned launching the AviPower® line, a new range for poultry and pigs. By way of an introduction to the line, before we dive into specifics, can you tell us more about it?

[Ester Grilli] The livestock industry is facing strong challenges that go beyond the common loss of performance and demanding management practices. Poultry and pigs are striving to cope with emerging threats such as antibiotic resistance, reduced utilisation of pharmacological zinc oxide, clostridiosis, and coccidiosis.

With the ambition to offer cutting-edge tools to help veterinarians and nutritionists to specifically target these novel issues, Vetagro is launching the AviPower® line. This new generation of products is conceived to harness the power of specific blends of botanicals for the maximum efficacy against these challenges, by delivering the bioactive compounds exactly where needed thanks to our patented microencapsulation technology.

Ester Grilli, Vetagro

Ester Grilli
VP and Head of Marketing and Innovation 

[Feedinfo] Let’s take pigs first. Weaning can be a stressful period, and zinc oxide, which was traditionally used to help, is now banned for pharmacological use in the EU. What are the main issues at weaning, and how does your product AviPower®5 work to minimise these?

Benedetta Tugnoli, Vetagro

Benedetta Tugnoli
Global Technical Innovation Manager

[Benedetta Tugnoli] Weaning is a difficult stage for pig production. The interaction of dietary, social, managerial, and immune stressors causes reduced growth performance, mortality, and increased costs for veterinary treatments. As a direct consequence, intestinal integrity and functionality are jeopardised, bacterial LPS can translocate, and inflammation is triggered. In this delicate framework, pathogenic bacterial species such as enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) overgrow, ultimately leading to post-weaning diarrhoea.

As you mentioned, thanks to its multi-factorial mechanism of action directed against several targets at the intestinal level, pharmacological zinc oxide was widely employed to control post-weaning stress and diarrhoea in piglets. However, recent policies are pushing towards a significant reduction in its use, while Europe adopted a complete ban for environmental issues.

The AviPower®5 selected combination of botanicals acts at multiple levels of this complex host-pathogen interaction to manage weaning stress. Its mechanism of action is dual; on one side, it specifically targets ETEC by reducing its growth and virulence, while on the other it enhances intestinal health, allowing a full recovery during strong inflammatory and oxidative challenges at weaning.


[Feedinfo] Can you talk us through the research you have carried out to demonstrate its impact? What is the average RoI that producers would expect to see?

[Benedetta Tugnoli] After a multi-step process of in vitro optimisation of the best blend of botanicals, we tested AviPower®5 in different experimental challenge models to validate its effectiveness and mechanism of action.

During a prolonged LPS challenge in weaning piglets, AviPower®5 prevented the loss of performance by modulating inflammatory response and oxidative stress at the liver and intestinal level. When challenging weaning pigs with different ETEC strains, such as F4+ or F18+, we confirmed that AviPower®5 supported piglet growth and improved faecal score by modulating microbiota composition, specifically reducing ETEC abundance and its virulence genes expression. This ultimately lowered inflammation at the intestinal level, ensuring an overall better performance. Interestingly, other experimental trials in weaning piglets without artificial challenges showed a considerable reduction in medical treatments required and duration thanks to AviPower®5 supplementation in the diet.

Thanks to our collaborations with feed mills and farmers, AviPower®5 has already been used in field conditions. Data collected from commercial farms, which in some cases were experiencing severe enteric challenges, consistently reported reduced mortality and culling rates and lowered diarrhoea incidence. In a recent field study in Poland, the beneficial effects of AviPower®5 improved the overall production yield, leading to an RoI of 5:1.


[Feedinfo] For poultry producers, coccidiosis is a major problem, causing production and economic losses. Why does it continue to be such an issue, and can you explain how AviPower®2 helps – what potential performance and financial benefits does it offer?

[Benedetta Tugnoli] Coccidiosis is a striking issue for the poultry industry. Its etiological agent, Eimeria spp., is a parasite with several developmental stages, which makes it very difficult to allow its complete control. In the environmental phase of their lifecycle, Eimeria oocysts can survive for a long time, and they display a great resistance to common disinfectants. In the host phase of their lifecycle, different Eimeria species produce lesions of various entity from proximal to distal tracts of the poultry intestine, demanding control strategies that equally target all the different parts of the intestinal tract.

To manage Eimeria, coccidiostats are extensively used in poultry farms, but resistance is an ever-growing issue, and few effective alternatives are available.

AviPower®2 is a blend of selected botanicals specifically designed to control coccidiosis in poultry. Its mechanism of action mainly resides in its capacity to impair Eimeria morphology. This translates into a reduced invasion and amplification at the intestinal level, ultimately mitigating the intestinal damage and decreasing oocyst shedding in the environment. Moreover, our data demonstrate that AviPower®2 efficacy is comparable to ionophores, making its employment a valuable alternative to traditional approaches or an additional tool to boost them when no longer effective.


[Feedinfo] Please tell us more about the research you have done on coccidiosis, and about work you have done demonstrating the effect of AviPower®2 alongside conventional disease control/vaccination approaches.

[Benedetta Tugnoli] After studying AviPower®2 mechanism of action in our complex cell culture systems in vitro, we validated its effectiveness in poultry by performing several trials with experimental Eimeria multi-strain challenges. Overall results showed that AviPower®2 is able to reduce the lesions caused by coccidia all along the intestinal tract and improve body weight and FCR of challenged animals.

AviPower®2 is also compatible with conventional vaccination programmes. In research studies which included administration of live vaccines for coccidiosis in the experimental design, AviPower®2 did not interfere with vaccine activity and improved bird growth performance.

Finally, several field trials performed in collaboration with commercial farms and integrated groups successfully demonstrated that AviPower®2 can be used on top of conventional anticoccidial programmes, or in combination with chemicals in shuttle programmes, improving production parameters and effectively controlling coccidiosis in poultry. 


[Feedinfo] A key practical issue on-farm is the ability to successfully introduce new products into diets, and to ensure consistent consumption. What steps do nutritionists or farmers need to take in order to successfully use AviPower® products?

[Benedetta Tugnoli] If there is something I have learned from my experience, is that when it comes to challenges and health issues, every farm has a unique history and condition that needs to be evaluated individually. Therefore, the first suggestion I would offer to ensure that any AviPower® line product is used productively is to have a clear understanding of practical issues that each individual farm is experiencing. By knowing all these background data, it is possible to tailor the specific AviPower® dose and application programme for each specific pig or poultry production unit.

Once the best approach for each case is decided, AviPower® can be easily employed. Vetagro patented microencapsulation technology ensures simple product handling and mixability in the diet, without risk of unwanted interference with other feed ingredients. Moreover, microencapsulation ensures the protection of bioactive compounds from mechanical and heat stress, like the pelleting process.

These technological advantages allow the possibility of releasing selected botanicals of any AviPower® product along the animal’s entire intestinal tract, ensuring the distribution of botanicals in all gut segments, and avoiding their degradation in the stomach.


[Feedinfo] Your ability to utilise microencapsulation technology in order to ‘protect’ botanicals and by-pass the stomach is key to the AviPower® products. What plans do you have to develop this product line for other species or animal health issues?

[Ester Grilli] Vetagro expertise in the wide and varied world of botanicals is constantly increasing, and the AviPower® line represents its maximum expression. We are constantly monitoring global trends and emerging threats to be ready to offer the best targeted and effective solution for each challenge that involves the intestine as a possible weak point. The multifactorial beneficial effects of botanicals suggest applications that go beyond traditional approaches and stimulate us to always think outside the box and continue exploring their application in different fields, simultaneously pushing the boundaries of our microencapsulation technology.

Our streamlined science-based approach can be applied to find new applications for existing AviPower® products, or to tailor new solutions based on precise needs coming from nutritionists, veterinarians and farmers. In a complex world where everything is in constant mutation and conditions for livestock production are becoming increasingly tough, our mission is to put our knowledge at the service of our customers to ensure the highest animal performance and health, even in challenging conditions.

Published in association with Vetagro

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