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Poultry Industry Has a Partner in DSM to Address Key Production & Growth Challenges – INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVES

Source: DSM via Feedinfo

07 January 2022 - As the global population continues to grow, consumer demand for affordable protein has followed suit. And because of poultry’s very efficient feed-to-protein conversion, it is being looked at as a key meat to fill this increased need.

But while producers have adapted to this changing landscape, they are being met with a number of challenges related to fulfilling consumer and regulatory expectations. From the removal of antimicrobials and food safety concerns to the sustainable use of natural resources, modern poultry producers have a lot of boxes to check.

DSM Animal Nutrition and Health has committed itself to helping the poultry industry navigate these diverse challenges to ensure they can meet the growing global need for poultry meat and eggs. In this Industry Perspectives, the company’s Global Poultry Head, Dr. Raj Murugesan, details the role the organisation is playing to help producers in this context, especially given the recent acquisition of BIOMIN, which has added a new set of tools to DSM’s portfolio.


[Feedinfo] The global demand for poultry meat is rising. How successful do you think poultry producers currently are at meeting this demand?

Dr. Raj Murugesan
Global Poultry Head
DSM Animal Nutrition and Health


[Raj Murugesan] As already proven by its ability to adapt and meet consumer demands time and again, the global poultry industry is very well positioned to meet the increased demand for poultry meat. Despite relatively high global feed prices squeezing profitability, expansion in poultry is spurred by robust demand as consumers seek low-cost animal protein as well as through sustained productivity gains in the US, Brazil, China, and Thailand.

Given this trend, global poultry meat production is expected to have some of the largest growth across all food animal production by 2030 - about 14-17% by various estimates - indicating that the poultry industry is expected to meet the increasing demand.

[Feedinfo] And how is the industry faring in terms of doing this sustainably? And what is DSM’s strategy here to help poultry producers achieve their green ambitions? Is the goal to just lower the impact of poultry production or make the industry wholly sustainable?

[Raj Murugesan] While the poultry industry is highly resilient and relatively well experienced in quickly responding to macro-trends, the best option to feed a burgeoning global population within our finite planetary bounds is to make poultry production wholly sustainable. At DSM, we have set measurable food system commitments to improve the People, Planet, and Livelihoods.  For example, DSM has committed to enable a 30% reduction in phosphorus emissions from poultry farming by 2030 using our full set of performance solutions and services. And through our ‘We Make It Possible’ strategic initiative, we focus on six core sustainability and business platforms to support the livestock value chain and address the associated challenges.

As the global thought process, influenced by strong consumer awareness, is moving towards developing a universal system to measure the environmental impact from various industries and use reward models to encourage transitioning to sustainable measures, it is paramount that the poultry industry leads the way forward. Leading poultry producers around the world have already started to put sustainability teams in place to deploy actionable measures that will help them to get insights and improve their situation. The key is to start quantifying resource utilisation and the resulting environmental footprint.

Our intelligent sustainability service, Sustell™, which was launched last June, has been developed squarely to keep these considerations in mind. It helps producers not only measure their environmental footprint at farm level but also provides strategies and solutions to reduce the same. This gains utmost significance as the industry goes through this huge transition to NAE production standards in many regions.


[Feedinfo] Talking about NAE production, this has impacted coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis management strategies. How is DSM proposing farmers approach their NAE ambitions while keeping these infections under control?

[Raj Murugesan] Antibiotics are strong tools that producers have used for almost a century to protect production birds. Their elimination in NAE systems obviously poses a huge threat to bird health and welfare: necrotic enteritis is the primary contender in this context. On the other hand, ionophore drugs which have high anticoccidial efficacy are in the middle of this conversation as well since they are technically antibiotics, thus not permitted in NAE production. Furthermore, antimicrobial resistance concerns from widely used chemical coccidiostats and ionophores make their continuous usage questionable as well. While the usage of anticoccidial vaccines have picked up pace in some parts, their impact on the liveability of birds makes them highly challenging to use as a standalone option.

However, cocci-necrotic management in NAE systems is not as simple as replacing a product but to also requires understanding the underlying factors that flare-up and predispose birds to these diseases. Mycotoxins have been proven to predispose birds to coccidiosis and/or necrotic enteritis by compromising the intestinal integrity as well as suppressing the immune health. This complex challenge makes management of coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis the top-most priority in NAE systems.

We, at DSM, have built an all-in cocci-necrotic management strategy that effectively targets all three aspects; a stand-alone anticoccidial alternative to ionophores or chemical coccidiostats, a potentiator of cocci vaccines to improve the vaccine efficacy and performance, and finally a solution to manage mycotoxins to prevent those predisposing factors. Our all-in cocci-necrotic management strategy provides the well needed flexibility to producers in putting together efficient and effective rotation and bio-shuttle programmes.


[Feedinfo] What about Salmonella management? According to both the CDC and EFSA, salmonella infections in humans have remained unchanged or have not seen significant improvement in recent years in Europe and the US. What is DSM proposing here to help poultry producers further their salmonella mitigation strategies?

[Raj Murugesan] While it is true that the Salmonella infection rate in humans remained unchanged or even contained in recent years, it rather reflects the improved regulatory checks in limiting contaminated meat getting into consumer markets. However, this is not a direct indicator of Salmonella contamination in poultry meat or eggs, the value of poultry meat or eggs being disposed as contaminated or recalled, and how it affects the profitability of poultry producers. The crucial factor in Salmonella management in the context of food safety is the risk of recalls, plant shutdowns, and the associated loss of resources and profitability, as well as loss of credibility for poultry producers.

We have partnered up with several major poultry producers to help in their efforts to move towards ‘Zero Salmonella’ meat and eggs. Our food safety strategy is one of the most comprehensive and supports the ‘Zero Salmonella’ initiative with a multi-pronged approach by targeting five key touch points: 1) the feed, 2) the breeder bird, 3) the hatchery, 4) the commercial bird (broiler, layer, turkey), and 5) the meat or egg (processing plant). Our goal is to help poultry producers in their effort to ship Salmonella-free meat and eggs to the market and reduce their exposure to recall risks while improving their profitability and protecting consumers.


[Feedinfo] Of course, all of these factors need to be considered while producers are also facing increasing raw material prices, which you briefly mentioned earlier. What long term solutions are you proposing they implement here to keep production profitable?

[Raj Murugesan] Poultry feed cost comprises about 70% of production cost hence even minor fluctuations in raw material prices can affect costs, resulting in loss of profitability to producers. Thus, improving feed utilisation has to be the long-term focus as efficient utilisation of dietary nutrients ensures that feed cost investment results in maximum returns, especially when typical protein and non-starch polysaccharide digestibility in poultry diets leave much to be desired.

To this extent, incorporation of next generation protease and carbohydrase to poultry diets has to be increased as they are highly cost-effective and efficient in increasing digestibility of amino acids and non-starch polysaccharides, resulting in reduced emissions while also offering the opportunity to use alternative raw materials. The same applies for next generation phytase, although it has already become an indisputable component of poultry diets.

Second, ensuring that the quality of feed is at its best without the risk of mycotoxins and pathogens is very important. While we mostly have seen mycotoxins affecting bird health and immunity, the less explored side of mycotoxins is that they lower the nutritive (caloric) value of feed and raw materials. Using a proven and comprehensive mycotoxin deactivator, not just a clay or yeast-based binder, should be part of a long-term strategy that ensures efficient use of natural resources. Our efforts to bring out specific, targeted mycotoxin-degrading enzymes have already resulted in the launch of FUMzyme® and ZENzyme®, for fumonisins and zearalenone, respectively, while additional mycotoxin enzymes are in the pipeline.


[Feedinfo] In addition to these solutions, what value do you think precision nutrition and microbiome analysis can add here?

[Raj Murugesan] The usage of digital technology and artificial intelligence across industries has grown exponentially with steep development advancements over the last few years. The poultry industry, given its mostly integrated nature, has already started to incorporate them to be efficient. Precision nutrition has a multi-dimensional usage helping us learn how our nutritional and management practices influence the growth rate efficiency and health status of birds, and the quality of meat and eggs produced. It can also help us predict and be prepared for challenges such as disease outbreaks and performance losses.

Developing on the extensive expertise we, at DSM, have on the microbiome and the ‘-omics’ technologies, we launched two precision service tools in 2021 for poultry: Verax® and GUTcheckTM. Verax® uses serum biomarkers to predict flock health status and the intervention strategies that need to be deployed to protect from further challenges, while GUTcheckTM uses microbiome and gene expression biomarkers to evaluate on-farm efficacy and efficiency of production.

Further, our recent research and development work on precision microbiome modulators targets what the microbiome can do and influences its actions to be consistently positive for the bird, while the compositional changes of the microbiome are secondary. This has led to an innovative technology already introduced in several markets, Symphiome™, which aims to improve nitrogen utilisation in the gut by influencing microbiome metabolism so that the nitrogen retention levels are increased while the emission levels are consistently reduced. This obviously results in improved litter quality, better paw health, and overall enhanced sustainability.


[Feedinfo] As we have seen today, there is so much that poultry producers need to contend with as they look to feed more people, do it sustainably and keep an eye on costs. How is egg and meat quality being affected through the adoption of these strategies? Does NAE and other sustainable production solutions automatically equal good quality products?

[Raj Murugesan] Pursuing a ‘Zero Salmonella’ initiative obviously helps producers to have the peace of mind to not worry about increased condemns, recalls and the associated loss of consumer credibility. In addition, controlling Salmonella in breeder operations reduces vertical transmission which otherwise would lead to hatchery contamination, loss of hatchability, early chick mortality, etc.

On the other hand, a simple implementation of ‘Optimum Vitamin Nutrition’ (OVNTM) along with carotenoids (such as Carophyll®) can help to consistently meet the meat and egg quality standards set by consumer markets. A combination of next-gen phytase and a fast-track vitamin D3, like 25-Hydroxy D3 (HyD®), can reduce broken and dirty eggs by improving eggshell quality through efficient utilisation of dietary phosphorus and calcium.

Precision nutrition and sustainability calculations can be utilised to predict or save the loss associated with lower-than-expected quality of meat or eggs, due to nutritional deficiency, disease, and or lapse in management practices by taking proactive intervention measures. While implementation of sustainability measures, such as NAE, Zero Salmonella, etc., obviously has a cost component, their returns have the potential to outweigh costs when producers go for appropriate deployment. The chances that deployment of sustainability measures lead to improved meat and egg quality is high which is a key contributing factor to increased returns for producers.


[Feedinfo] Lastly, how has BIOMIN acquisition informed your poultry strategy going into the new year? What can producers expect from you in 2022?

[Raj Murugesan] The DSM acquisition of BIOMIN exponentially increased our ability to offer the most comprehensive solution and service portfolio to the poultry industry comprising, vitamins, premixes, carotenoids, feed enzymes, gut health, mycotoxin deactivators, precision farming and sustainability tools. A one-stop shop is always helpful for producers in saving time, building long-lasting, trustful, collaborative partnerships with a manufacturer who can address nearly all of their poultry nutrition and health needs.

Given our producer-centric approach, we are focusing our ‘Efficient and Sustainable’ solution offering on four specific areas that have the most impact on the profitability of poultry producers:

- Nutrition and feed cost savings through increasing the digestibility of carbohydrate, protein, Calcium, and Phosphorus to maximize the efficient utilization of feed as well as to enable usage of alternative feed ingredients, with the launch of our next generation protease (ProAct 360TM) and phytase developed through our alliance with Novozymes, and the expansion of our OVNTM guidelines;
- Health and performance by implementing an all-in cocci-necrotic management strategy to prevent and manage coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis challenges through effective replacement of antibiotics, anticoccidials, and potentiation of cocci vaccines, while also helping producers to predict the health status of their current and future flocks through Verax®;
- Feed and food quality and safety through specific mycotoxin degrading enzymes (Mycofix®) helping the ‘Clean feed’ initiative as well as deploying the five-pronged food safety strategy supporting ‘Zero Salmonella’ initiative and to improve the quality of chicks, meat, and eggs;
- Welfare and sustainability by executing all of this in the most eco-conscious way, keeping bird welfare in mind, through SustellTM to measure ammonia and phosphorus emissions, ensure efficient utilisation of resources, etc., and to deploy appropriate intervention strategies to achieve our commitment to help reduce 30% poultry phosphorus emissions by 2030.

Our goal is to ‘Protect’ the poultry flock, make the flock ‘Perform’ better, and help producers to make ‘Profit’.

We are looking forward to engaging our poultry customers in 2022 individually and at industry conferences such as IPPE, VIV, and elsewhere with a compelling set of current and new tools that help to propel the industry forward and achieve top level performance.


Published in association with DSM Animal Nutrition and Health