High Feed Ingredient Prices Make Optimising Ruminant Fibre Digestibility a Major Priority – INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVES

Source: Lallemand Animal Nutrition via Feedinfo

27 January 2021 - One of the main advantages of ruminants is their capacity to digest a wide variety of plants and feeds which have little or no nutritional value for other animals (including humans) and transform them into useful food sources like milk or meat. However, even the impressive ruminant digestive system has its limits in terms of the types of fibres it can digest.

The modern animal nutrition industry is all about overcoming such limits and expanding digestibility further. As the ruminant experts at Lallemand Animal Nutrition insist, getting every last nutrient out of the feed is positive both for the farmer’s bottom line and for the environment. In today’s Industry Perspective, we hear from Marie-Valentine Glica, Global Strategic Marketing Manager for Ruminant Feed Additives, and Laurent Dussert, Global Category Manager for Ruminants, about how new insights about trusted tools such as live yeast can help in this pursuit—and why this is more important than ever.

[Feedinfo] Why is it more important than ever to be able to maximise the digestibility of fibre from the diet?

[Marie Valentine Glica] For over a year now, the prices of purchased raw materials (grain or feed ingredients used in concentrates) have increased tremendously compared to locally produced fibre-based ingredients such as forages. Given the very high crude oil price, this situation could last for a while because high fuel prices have direct impacts on the price of crops (as it raises the price of inputs such as fuel for farm machinery) and also because an environment of high fuel prices provides competition for raw materials as resources for energy production (biofuel and biogas production).

In this context of skyrocketing prices of raw materials, up 20 to 30% compared to 2020, maximizing the extraction of energy from forage and concentrate is crucial and has direct impacts on farm revenue and income over feed cost. As forage can be either grown on farm or obtained locally at a more competitive price than concentrates, nutritionists aim to help cattle extract more energy from forage to improve farm sustainability (in the sense of balance between the environment, equity, and economy). Cattle are foragers; one of the key advantages of the ruminant digestive system is its exceptional ability to degrade and ferment fibre through microbial activity. The fibre components provide represent a significant amount of energy for the ruminant. The objective of the nutritionist is to maximize fibre digestibility to extract more energy from the fibrous components of the feed/forage, leading to improving feed efficiency.

Marie-Valentine Glica

Marie-Valentine Glica
Global Strategic Marketing Manager for Ruminant Feed Additives
Lallemand Animal Nutrition

[Feedinfo] What does this mean when it comes to formulating with co-products of other industrial processes (i.e. sugar beet pulp, citrus pulp, brewers’ grains)?

[Marie Valentine Glica] Food byproducts have been part of livestock feeding for a long time. More specifically, ruminants have a unique capacity to digest fibre (including cellulose) and to transform raw materials that cannot be used to feed humans into food products like milk or meat. This includes feed materials such as sugar beet pulp, citrus pulp and brewers’ grains rich in fibre, in addition to traditional forages such as ray grass, alfa hay, or corn silage. Better understanding how fibre is degraded in the rumen helps identify the levers that can help reach this goal and make sure fibre is no longer an untapped energy source.

Supporting a better nutritional use of such human inedible ingredients in animal nutrition also helps reduce the competition for food-grade nutrients and supports a sustainable way to produce high value animal proteins.

[Feedinfo] To what extent is market interest in improved feed efficiency from solutions such as live yeast driven by the availability of feed raw materials? Do you see more interest in places experiencing drought, supply chain issues, or maybe even macroeconomic factors making forage expensive or hard to obtain?

Laurent Dussert
Global Category Manager for Ruminants
Lallemand Animal Nutrition

[Laurent Dussert] Around the world, ruminant production has made huge strides in improving feed efficiency, and will continue to do so. This is a way to optimize the quantity of food produced per kg of feed given to the animal (whether measured in milk or meat) and per hectare of land, and a way to more sustainably meet the demands of an increasing world population, using science-based nutritional solutions. Improving the digestibility of locally available raw materials, regardless of any environmental challenges such as heat stress, is a key driver of Income Over Feed Cost for the farmer, and of respect of the natural ecosystems and the environment. The optimal function of the rumen, the optimal digestion of fibre (from all type of ruminant diets), and the use of natural solutions such as the rumen specific live yeast from Lallemand Animal Nutrition, i.e. LEVUCELL SC (Saccharomyces cerevisiae CNCM I-1077), can help contribute to the short- and long-term objectives of better feed efficiency and making animal production even more sustainable.

Formulation in ruminant nutrition is a balance between raw materials, forage prices, and digestibility of each of the feed components. Giving the opportunity to nutritionists and producers to switch from one to another depending on their specific situation without compromising on feed efficiency helps support greater flexibility and resilience.

[Feedinfo] What role does LEVUCELL SC have to play in maximizing fibre digestibility in ruminants?

[Laurent Dussert] The rumen specific live yeast LEVUCELL SC (Saccharomyces cerevisiae CNCM I-1077), also described as a rumen modifier, acts as a real optimizer of the rumen engine. It helps boost the efficiency with which feed is transformed into energy, principally through an improved utilization of fibrous material. Animals fed LEVUCELL SC exhibit higher populations of fibre-digesting rumen microbiota (fungi and bacteria), while these populations exert an increased fibrolytic activity. The mechanism of action of Saccharomyces cerevisiae CNCM I-1077 on fibre degrading activities is based on stimulating and encouraging the colonization of specific rumen bacteria and fungi, thereby promoting substrate access and increasing the pool of fibrolytic enzymes. This specific live yeast has a beneficial impact on microbial fibre degradation and on the promotion of an optimal rumen environment (with beneficial action on rumen pH). These effects and mechanisms of action have been demonstrated through more than 100 scientific publications over the 25 + years since this strain was discovered in partnership with INRAE in France.

This represents a valuable tool which allows for the forage portion of the diet to be maximized and gives producers and nutritionists the possibility to increase milk or meat revenue per kilogram of feed, or allows them to optimize feed cost while maintaining similar revenue. LEVUCELL SC is able to improve feed efficiency by 3 to 7% under standard or stress production conditions.

[Feedinfo] How easy is it for nutritionists to understand the effect that the addition of live yeast will have on the digestibility of other ingredients? What tools can be used to do this?

[Laurent Dussert] Over the years we have built a rich database of LEVUCELL SC effects on in vivo fibre digestibility for a multitude of forages and feed ingredients. These data allowed us to model the live yeast effect in terms of increased energy value depending on the feed: +3% up to 8% depending on the ingredients and the forage characteristics (e.g., improvement obtained is higher for forages with lower intrinsic fibre degradability. The largely documented pH stabilizing effect of LEVUCELL SC further enhances the fibre digestibility under acidotic diet conditions.

To help nutritionists when formulating with live yeast, Lallemand Animal Nutrition has developed the “LEVUCELL SC-submodel” with forage NDFd equations. For example, for dairy, multiple-study analyses of the effect of LEVUCELL SC on milk yield, milk component content and yield, and feed efficiency were used to feed the model. Thanks to this sub-model, the nutritionist can predict or model the effect that adding LEVUCELL SC to a ration will have on raw material digestibility, feed efficiency and income over feed cost. It contributes to precision feeding by helping to formulate according to the desired outcome (e.g., equivalent cost for higher milk revenue or least cost formulations).

[Feedinfo] What are some of the other levers that can help reach the goal of maximum fibre digestibility?

[Laurent Dussert] From a fibre perspective, feed efficiency could also be improved by working on forage quality. With an optimal harvest and forage management, producers can help extract more energy from the fibre. The use of scientifically proven forages inoculants, such as the MAGNIVA Forage Inoculants from Lallemand Animal Nutrition, helps preserve the forage’s nutritional potential, avoid dry matter losses and preserve silage quality from spoilage by undesirable microorganisms. Taken together, this contributes to maximizing the energy available per kilogram of harvested forage.

[Feedinfo] What have been the most important evolutions of recent years in our understanding of fibre digestion in ruminants? What kind of research has Lallemand participated in on this subject?

[Laurent Dussert] Our team at the Lallemand Ruminant Center of Excellence in partnership with a network of international universities and research institutes, conducts multiples studies each year to continue gathering in vivo and in vitro data on raw materials and fibre digestibility under numerous conditions. Beyond this very extensive applied research, the team also works with the most advanced OMICS tools and research platforms towards a better understanding of the extremely rich rumen microbiota interactions and function, helping to understand, for example, the impact of a shift in microbial populations under a stressful event such as a diet transition or calving and illustrate the links between this microbial shift, its impact on diet digestibility, and solutions to alleviate the negative impacts. Such positive shifts of diet digestibility can be implemented in the diet model for optimal production performance and income over feed costs.

[Feedinfo] How is Lallemand helping to better educate the industry at large about these new findings and their implications for ruminant nutrition?

[Marie Valentine Glica] We try to bring the company’s research-based knowledge to the field through education, in particular via our network of experts who work closely with nutritionists or design custom on-farm trials to apply scientific findings to their specific diets and their client’s farm conditions. Indeed, making cutting-edge scientific findings relevant to the specific circumstances of an individual farm is a major driver for Lallemand Animal Nutrition—the LEVUCELL SC-submodel mentioned above was one example of a tool devised to help nutritionists put yeast insights to practical use, and a great example of a precision-feeding application.

Furthermore, since Lallemand’s expertise on digestibility is rather unique in that it spans both the forage side of things (thanks to its extensive silage research) and the animal side of things (thanks to the ruminant nutrition research outlined above), the company organized a series of knowledge-sharing webinars with regional experts in nutrition and with international academic researchers (e.g. Rick Grant from the USA’s Miner Institute, or Dr Chaucheyras-Durand from France’s INRAE/Lallemand). Based on the great reception of these webinar-based trainings dedicated to the life cycle of fibre, Lallemand team is working on developing dedicated meetings, trainings and technical guides around the world for its client networks and local experts.

In our view, it is more urgent than ever for the industry to take a serious look at fibre digestibility, from both the feed and breeding perspectives, and work on improving the environmental and economic sustainability of animal production. Getting every last nutrient out of your forage helps lessen its footprint in terms of land-use and greenhouse gas production, something which is hugely important, and also helps protect the narrow margins of farmers whose livelihoods are, in some parts of the world, increasingly tenuous. This is what motivates Lallemand to make sure the concept is understood as widely as possible and to continue to pursue further insight and solutions.


Published in association with Lallemand Animal Nutrition