Phytogenics: Leading the way into a sustainable future

Healthy animals are the foundation for healthy people. And healthy people are the basis for a stable and productive society, not only during or shortly after a pandemic like the one we have been witnessing. After all, animal feed as the first link in the food chain is the right starting point for measures to improve animal welfare and thus animal health. Companies in the agricultural and food industry are increasingly including animal welfare in their sustainability strategies.

Anne Möddel
Senior Technical Sales Manager
Dr. Eckel Animal Nutrition, Germany

When we talk about sustainability, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Resource-efficient business? Environmentally friendly production? Animal welfare? Long-term economic growth? While everyone has their own perspective and agenda when it comes to sustainability, the most important, globally applicable sustainability goals are found in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were formulated a few years ago by the United Nations and the FAO and adopted by its member states. Of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), three are of particular relevance to our industry: Goal 2: “Zero Hunger”, Goal 3: “Health and Wellbeing” and Goal 12: “Responsible Consumption and Production”. We all agree with Goal 2: Zero Hunger. This is what we work towards every day in feed production. Goals 3 and 12 are very ambitious for all of us and need our full attention.

Feed additives, with their contribution to safe feed, sustainable production and healthy food, are an important part of the strategy to achieve these goals. Here we have particularly powerful allies that play a key role in the future profitable and sustainable production of feed and food: phytogenics. With their help, we will manage to safeguard companies against future crises and be successful in the long term. And the way to get there is through sustainability and animal welfare.

ZERO HUNGER, GOOD HEALTH AND WELLBEING
For decades, the global demand in animal protein has been on the rise, corresponding to the growing world population. In our united fight against hunger and malnutrition, the production of high-quality animal protein is of crucial importance. In addition to quality, it is above all a question of using and utilizing the available resources in the best possible way.

Healthy animals are the foundation for healthy people. And healthy people are the basis for a stable and productive society, not only during or shortly after a pandemic like the one we have been witnessing. As a result, the question of animal welfare is becoming increasingly important for feed manufacturers as well. After all, animal feed as the first link in the food chain is the right starting point for measures to improve animal welfare and thus animal health. Companies in the agricultural and food industry are increasingly including animal welfare in their sustainability strategies.

“If we want to achieve sustainability, we have to begin with the basics of food production: with the feed. This is where the right feed additives come to play their big part. They improve performance by increasing animal growth, consequently producing more protein to combat hunger. We can make a positive impact on food safety and security by supporting health in a natural way.”

RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION
The right feed additives prepare the animal to cope better with infection. This enables the farmer to reduce medication use especially that of antibiotics, helps prevent the formation of uncontrollable microbial resistance and promotes both human and animal well-being and health. Phytogenic additives are the hidden champions in animal nutrition. They stimulate the animal’s immune system, making it more resistant to disease and external environmental factors, while also affecting barn hygiene and climate.

All these points are directly connected with the economic benefits. Improved animal welfare increases livestock efficiency, thus saving resources, increasing margins and profits, and enabling the development of new markets and access to new customers.

CLIMATE ACTIONS
In the future, we will have to feed more and more people with fewer resources (e.g. water or farmland). Therefore, we need more efficiency in production to ensure that resources and raw materials are used effectively, emissions are reduced and feed and food losses are prevented, while at the same time reducing our ecological footprint. A simple change in production methods leads to a huge saving of resources.

This is an important issue especially in critical weather situations. In times when humidity fluctuates greatly and temperatures are above 30°C, this has a decisive influence on performance and efficiency. Experiments show that phytogenic additives offer a decisive advantage here.

For example, Dr. Eckel’s phytogenic feed additive Anta®Phyt decreased feed conversion by up to 4 % and increased body weight (Figure 1). At the same time, it reduced the humidity of the litter by 16 %—a clear indication of better gut health.

Fig. 1: Impact of a phytogenic feed additive on performance in chickens

By taking advantage of phytogenic feed additives, we can directly impact on the SDGs. We produce more food more efficiently and naturally, supporting animal and human health and wellbeing.

SUSTAINABILITY AND SUCCESS: LET’S GO FOR IT
If we want to achieve sustainability, we have to begin with the basics of food production: with the feed. This is where the right feed additives come to play their big part. They improve performance by increasing animal growth, consequently producing more protein to combat hunger. We can make a positive impact on food safety and security by supporting health in a natural way. And we can reduce our ecological footprint by improving efficiency.

By this, we play a vital part in securing the health and stability of our societies, nations and industries. There will always be new challenges and new crises. The best we can—and must—do is to strengthen people and businesses against their impacts. Agriculture is the key industry to secure the future for our world. All actors along the value chain can, within their respective capabilities, play their part in improving animal welfare and striving for sustainability. So let’s go for it, now. Because sustainability and animal welfare pay off—for everyone. And it all starts with the feed.

About Anne Möddel
Anne Möddel is Senior Technical Sales Manager at Dr. Eckel Animal Nutrition GmbH & Co. KG, Germany. After completing her training as an agronomist and her master’s degree in agricultural sciences at the University of Bonn, she worked as a pig-farming specialist at an international feed manufacturer before joining the Technical Sales Team at Dr. Eckel.