“It’s going to be another hot one” Hydration and early nutrition for chicks as summer approaches

With summer approaching, hydration and early nutrition for chicks becomes even more important. NMAN®, a new product from Axitan’s Hatch.Life brand helps hatcheries and poultry farms meet the challenges of the hot summer months. NMAN®, a nutrition and hydration product designed specifically for chicks and poultry, is already attracting attention for its ease of use and versatility.

Dr. Kane Miller, Chief Innovation Officer and the Founder of Axitan
Al Zimmerman, CEO of Axitan

Axitan, a leading biotechnology company focused on the development of endolysin enzyme products to replace antibiotics in animal feed, recently launched NMAN®, a new hydration and nutrition product for chicks. Dr. Kane Miller, Chief Innovation Officer and the Founder of Axitan shares details about the new product: “NMAN® is a nutrition and hydration product specifically designed for chicks & poults. It comes in the form of a 40-gram gel bar that is exceptionally easy to handle and can be placed directly into a chick box during transport to the farm or placed on top of feed as a top dressing to encourage early feed adoption at the farm. Its bright green colour makes it very attractive to the chicks. As a nutrition and hydration product, NMAN® provides the birds with a clean source of water in addition to carbohydrates, easily digestible fats and a complete suite of high-quality vitamins, all designed to give chicks the best start in life. We manufacture the bars from a proprietary gum blend that makes NMAN® easy to handle, minimises chick wetting and ensures that it is easy for the chicks to eat.”

The company believes that NMAN® will become even more important for the poultry industry, especially with the upcoming hot summer months, and emphasizes that this is supported by the high demand following the launch of the product in the US where the summer heat in the southeast of the country can be challenging for the poultry industry.

Blake Henson, a partner at Clear View Enterprises (CVE), which distributes nutrition and hydration products to poultry locations across the US, emphasizes the importance of hydration and nutrition for chicks in hot weather. “Early life hydration and nutrition has always been a challenge – particularly during transport and placement,” says Henson. “In the height of the summer, we’ve seen many instances where mortality rates shoot up.”

Reminding that early life mortality is a constant problem in poultry production and that there are many contributing factors, Dr. Miller, Chief Innovation Officer, says: “The product has been designed to help address some of the issues associated with not being able to feed and hydrate birds at the hatchery and during transport. This is a critical point in a bird’s life and birds often suffer high rates of mortality in the first 7 days which are in part caused by this. Hydration is even more important in hot weather and when birds have to be transported long distances to the farm.”

Also giving information about the trial studies that were conducted before launching the product to the market, Kane Miller summarizes the received results, adding: “Prior to launching NMAN®, a study was conducted where 800 chicks were held for 72 hours in a holding room simulating normal hatchery and long-distance travel conditions. The study demonstrated that the application of NMAN® was able to reduce mortality in a dose dependent manner so when chicks were fed 1g of NMAN® at the start of the study mortality was reduced by 33% relative to the control. When fed 2g at the start of the study, mortality dropped by 60%. And when initially fed 1g at the start and an additional 1g 24 hours later, the mortality level fell by 80% relative to the control that was not fed NMAN.”

To help hatcheries and poultry farms better manage the issue, CVE recently onboarded the product.

Henson, a partner at CVE, pointed out the ease of use and results of this product the company offers to customers: “What immediately struck us about NMAN® was its ease-of-use for poultry producers. They just have to open the pack, grab the bars inside, and put them in the transport box. One or two bars per box. We were then really impressed with the success we saw when both hatcheries and farms started incorporating it into their operations.”

Originally designed to address the challenges of transporting chicks from the hatchery, NMAN® is now also being used by operations managers as a top dressing to encourage chicks to eat when they arrive at the farm.

One live production manager we spoke to put it succinctly: “Finding better ways to manage hydration and nutrition at the hatchery and then ensuring chicks rapidly adapt to feed at the farm, had become a number one priority for us. When we heard about NMAN®, we thought we’d give it a try.”

Al Zimmerman, CEO of Axitan, explains: “A significant amount of time and attention went into NMAN’s development. We wanted a gel-based product for newly hatched birds that would both provide an easily digestible, nutritionally complete meal and hydrate them without getting them wet. It is this combination that gives NMAN® its versatility.”

With over 9 billion chicks hatched each year in North America alone, even the smallest improvements in hatchery liveability, and the subsequent 7-day mortality and growth rates, can accumulate into significant economic gains.

“When production managers come across something that works, word typically spreads,” says Blake Henson. “With NMAN®, we initially introduced it to address transportation issues and then when we placed it on top of feed in treys and pans, we really saw feed consumption increase. Now a number of our customers have incorporated it into their process.”

How is this product different from similar products on the market? Al Zimmerman states: “The major differentiator is its ease of use. You don’t need to do any form of preparation on site – i.e mixing or cutting. It arrives 100% ready to use. You just open a bag and pull-out a bar. It also does not contain any form of synthetic polymer like some other products on the market. In fact, all the ingredients are high quality human food grade. Its highly versatile and has been designed completely with the end user in mind.”

For Axitan, NMAN® carries a special significance beyond just being a highly effective hydration product. Dr. Kane Miller, explains: “The unique composition of the gel makes it an excellent platform to ultimately deliver a wide range of health and nutrition products to newly hatched birds.”

The product is manufactured at Axitan’s FDA registered GMP facility in Georgia. NMAN® gel bars are delivered in re-sealable pouches, each bag containing 45 bright green bars, with each bar sufficient for 50 chicks. The product is available across North America through CVE, though not available for other countries. But Zimmerman, CEO of Axitan, emphasizes that: “At the moment NMAN® is only being distributed in the US. However, we are open to exporting the product with the right commercial partners.”

About Al Zimmerman
Al Zimmerman is the CEO of Axitan. He brings a wealth experience from the biotech and animal feed additive industries. He was previously with Novus International from 2015–2023 which culminated in his leading innovation growth strategy, business development, acquisitions and alliances. Prior to Novus, Zimmerman established and led the Dietary Supplement Finished Format Business at DuPont (now IFF). He holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas, an MBA from Texas Christian University and an Executive Certificate from the University of Wisconsin.

About Dr. Kane Miller
Dr. Kane Miller is the Founder & Chief Innovation Officer of Axitan. Miller is responsible for the ongoing development of Axitan’s endolysin delivery platform and Axitan’s product pipeline focused on delivering material performance benefits to the livestock industry. Miller obtained his Engineering Doctorate (EngD) in Biochemical Engineering from University College London (UCL) having earned a Master’s degree in Biochemical Engineering from the same institution. UCL is recognised as a leading UK and European biotech research centre.