18 January 2022 - Use of zinc oxide (ZnO) as a veterinary medicinal product, which can be defined as levels above 150 parts per million (ppm), will be banned in the European Union (EU) starting June 2022. With this ban fast-approaching, several providers of alternative zinc-feeding strategies have in recent months reached out to Feedinfo’s INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVES to share their views and highlight the benefits of their technologies.
Today, Dr. Torben Liermann, Global Technical Director at Provita Supplements in Germany, talks to us about how his company has succeeded in activating feed grade zinc and copper oxide through a novel technology that modifies functional properties, particle size, and surface area, causing an increase in the stored internal energy in the molecule, which, in turn, improves the physiochemical properties of the MAXACTIVAT range of products Provita Supplements offers, making them more reactive during ingestion by the animal – be it for calves or for monogastric animals.
Dr. Torben Liermann
But first a bit of background. Provita Supplements is part of a family-owned, German but global and diversified group of companies, the Huelsenberg Group, serving the agriculture industry since the 1930s. All of Provita Supplements’ products are manufactured in the group’s production facilities in Germany and Austria. The company also has subsidiaries in North and South America. In other regions like the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, Provita Supplements works with distributors and partners. Provita Supplements distributes trace mineral solutions, e. g. activated and complexed minerals, probiotics and direct fed microbials, as well as dried fungal fermentation products and algae-based ingredients for the animal feed industries worldwide.
[Feedinfo] Dr. Liermann, you work with manufacturing group partners. What are the advantages of this manufacturing partnership model?
[Torben Liermann] At Provita Supplements, we believe in putting our customers first. We rely on our close relationship with our international business-to-business customers to guide new product research and development to the agricultural sector. Provita Supplements´ biggest strength is to serve the whole chain of adding value – from research and development to applied science across production up to sales and support. All our production facilities are affiliates of our Huelsenberg Group, being equipped with the latest technologies to deliver high-quality results. This way, we are making use of a centralised purchase department and holistic quality management. Moreover, being part of a cross-linked network of associated companies, also acting in the business-to-consumer sector, we have knowledge of end customer needs. Short decision ways and close communication between all departments and production facilities gives us a high degree of innovation and flexibility for delivering a target-oriented, in-house produced product portfolio from a single source. Additionally, our in-house applied research farm ‘Gut Huelsenberg’ tests all of our products. This allows us to verify every product and back it with scientific findings to ensure a successful result for our customers and their animals.
[Feedinfo] Can you provide an overview of the MAXACTIVAT zinc and copper oxide range? How successful has this range been over time? In which global markets is it available?
[Torben Liermann] The MAXACTIVAT product range is fully available in Europe and North America. In South America, the Middle East and Asia, registration is still ongoing in some countries, whereas our activated zinc is already available in others. The onset of activating minerals was already given by implementing our own Eccentric Vibrating Mill (EVM) technology for complexation of minerals almost a decade ago. With ongoing changes in feed legislation and the phasing out of zinc oxide as a veterinary instrument through the EU, we started to launch MAXACTIVAT in 2018 in the EU and subsequently in international markets. Globally therapeutic dosages of zinc and copper oxides are still a tolerable practice for prevention of post-weaning diarrhoea. Therefore, we see a clear global requirement of highly efficient and environmentally friendly feed additives. However, we won’t be able to replace pharmacological dosages of zinc oxide if operators don’t see the benefits or have to change management factors. But with our nutritional experience and technical support we can deliver a strong tool which can be easily implemented into future feeding concepts with benefits in economics and animal welfare in calf and monogastric nutrition.
[Feedinfo] In 2021, Provita Supplements obtained a European patent for the production process of MAXACTIVAT/Zn. Can you provide details on your EVM process?
[Torben Liermann] EVM technology induces an energy carry over into inert solids. The technology has convincingly proven its performance in the most varied applications in the field of micro-grinding, e. g. including pharmaceutical production, chemical industry, and food additive processing. EVM treatment results in a mechano-chemical activation of the treated minerals, increased free energy in the solid systems and increased reactivity. During this newly patented process of activating metal oxides, physical-chemical properties such as particle size, surface area and the amount of internal energy stored in the zinc oxide molecule are modified, making the product more reactive when ingested by the animals. It’s simply a much more active and effective form of zinc and copper oxide. Effects of EVM treatment on metal oxide is proven in vitro and in vivo. Extensive research has shown that MAXACTIVAT/Zn is effectively preventing diarrhoea in young animals even when applied at levels in line with the strict European feed laws. This unique approach of a feed additive promotes interest for further research activities to investigate beneficial effects on gut integrity.
[Feedinfo] You also say MAXACTIVAT/Zn is more active than standard zinc oxide and is more reactive in the dairy calf’s GI tract. It helps with calf weight gain and in the reduction of diarrhoea, thus creating financial savings particularly in large dairy herds. Can you demonstrate this with a few case studies?
[Torben Liermann] A healthy gastrointestinal tract and strong immune system are essential to optimise growth performance and overall calf health and rearing costs. A USDA survey reported that 24% of pre-weaned dairy calves experienced diarrhoea while 18 % received anti-microbial medication treatment. North American trial results demonstrated that MAXACTIVAT/Zn contributes to reducing the use of antibiotics (approx. 8%) and at the same time improves zootechnical parameters in calf rearing. These trials with male Holstein calves sourced from auction barns or directly from dairy farms have been set up to focus especially on the immune status (assessed by serum total protein). Furthermore, two German trials demonstrated that calves which received activated zinc oxide proved to be more robust, requiring fewer therapeutic treatments with the number of treatments being reduced by 37% and 46%, respectively. These observations suggest that MAXACTIVAT/Zn can be considered as a viable option for diarrhoea prevention. It offers a nutritional solution for an economical strategy to secure immune function, inhibitory action against harmful microorganisms and a boost to a calf’s general defense system.
[Feedinfo] There are more and more environmental concerns surrounding use of zinc oxide. How does MAXACTIVAT/Zn address such concerns?
[Torben Liermann] Due to growing environmental awareness there is a clear demand for pure nutritional solutions for the prevention of post-weaning digestive disturbances, especially those that are related to E. coli. The results of many studies indicate that activated zinc and copper oxide are a viable alternative to therapeutic dosages of Zn and Cu oxide. The European Medicines Agency concluded that the benefits of zinc oxide to preventing diarrhoea do not outweigh the risks for the environment. Also driven by this conclusion, we established MAXACTIVAT/Zn as part of a “feed ingredient change strategy” in piglet nutrition aiming at the following improvements: less gastrointestinal lesions until end of breeding phase (caused by pharmacological Zn dosages), improved feed intake during mid phase of breeding and improved daily weight gain and feed conversion rate.
[Feedinfo] What will you telling customers who come to you with questions about the June 2022 zinc oxide ban in the EU?
[Torben Liermann] Reducing trace mineral excretion and maintaining animal health and welfare can only be implemented by a multifactorial management system and not by only substituting single ingredients. Our goal was to supply an equivalent to high dosing of zinc from zinc oxide, as part of a holistic feeding strategy, with same effects on animal health and well-being as well as occurrence and treatment of diarrhoea. We can clearly demonstrate our proposition on how to operate effectively within the maximum allowable zinc concentration in the feed (piglets). One approach to use the 150 ppm most efficiently is to fully equip complementary- and compound-feed for monogastric with MAXACTIVAT/Zn as a highly available zinc source. Furthermore, we can take advantages of diet optimisation into consideration – by creating space in the diet with lowered zinc levels (up to 2 - 3%) we are able to increase nutrient density. Moreover, the use of activated zinc oxide provides a nutritional path being able to operate inside the obligatory feed legislative framework of maximum trace mineral levels.
[Feedinfo] What are the other priorities for the MAXACTIVAT range in 2022?
[Torben Liermann] At Provita Supplements, we continuously improve the quality and integrity of our products. Our focus for 2022 will be to broaden and demonstrate the benefits of MAXACTIVAT in livestock, poultry and aquaculture by using our comprehensive experiences. In the aquaculture sector, we could already prove that the White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV)-induced mortality in shrimp was reduced while using MAXACTIVAT/Zn. These findings will be used to develop new approaches. To come up with another example: we will also use our experiences with changes of E. Coli and Clostridia impact in poultry for future product development.
Published in association with Provita Supplements