Mycotoxins and Other ANFs Must Be Top of Mind When Adapting Diets to Include Novel Ingredients – INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVES

Source: DSM via Feedinfo

There are many reasons why alternative feed ingredients are appealing to feed formulators around the world. With ports backed up and truckers hard to find, maybe you prefer to build your diets around locally-available crops and reduce your reliance on imported raw materials. Or maybe you are increasingly looking to use by-products in your feed, as global balance sheets for grains and oilseeds start to look uncomfortably tight and prices are becoming painful. Or maybe you are feeling the pressure to reduce the carbon footprint of your formulation. From drought to geopolitics to market concerns, the disruptions of the last few years have required adaption from the animal nutrition industry.

However valuable, though, change is hard. With something as delicate and high-stakes as animal diets, there are several different things that can go wrong. In such a context, the wide-ranging experience of an animal nutrition giant like DSM is particularly valuable. Today, we speak with two of the company’s top-level experts—Ursula Hofstetter, Head of Mycotoxin Risk Management, and Kostas Stamatopoulos, Senior Global Product Manager for Feed Enzymes—about the antinutritional factors that must be kept in mind when adapting a diet to include more novel ingredients, and learn what solutions DSM Animal Nutrition and Health can offer to accompany producers during these transitions.

[Feedinfo] As costs rise for traditional ingredients, many feed formulators are turning to alternatives. What are some of the hidden risks the use of unfamiliar ingredients can pose?

[Ursula Hofstetter] In general, high feed material prices encourage growers to explore alternative feed ingredients that offer lower cost and are more sustainable due to their local availability. However, growers should be aware that alternatives, especially processed by-products, can introduce digestibility issues and antinutritional factors such as mycotoxins that pose additional risk and expense to farming operations due to lower animal performance or impaired health. 

 [Feedinfo] How does processing affect the presence of antinutritional factors like mycotoxins? Are mycotoxins unusual among antinutritional factors in that way?

[Ursula Hofstetter] While some antinutritional factors, e.g., phytic acid, can be mostly removed or inactivated, mycotoxins are not destroyed during most conventional feed processing operations. Mycotoxins are very heat stable and therefore heat treatments (boiling water, roasting, pelleting) cannot destroy them. Moreover, during processing, the distribution of mycotoxins can shift, leading to higher concentrations in some fractions used in animal feed. For example, certain mycotoxins are known to be more concentrated in the outer layers of wheat, so usage of wheat bran could increase the risk of mycotoxin contamination. Similarly, when ethanol is distilled, mycotoxins remain in the biomass. Because the overall biomass volume decreases, mycotoxin concentrations in DDGS can be 3 times higher compared to initial levels in the unprocessed crop.

[Feedinfo] Given that the mycotoxin threat is such a broad and varied one, testing and diagnosis are essential in effective interventions. What are some recent tools which can better help with this?

[Ursula Hofstetter] Feed producers and purchasers have a wide variety of testing methods available, ranging from low cost and quick lateral flow devices to more sophisticated and sensitive methods like liquid chromatography double mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Certain methods are better suited to certain tasks.

For example, lateral flow is suitable for raw materials but not for final feeds, because it does not cover metabolites of the parent mycotoxin or emerging mycotoxins. However, the main challenge in feed testing is the sampling process. Mycotoxins are not evenly distributed in feeds, and proper sampling is crucial to get a representative sample of your feed bulk. Without an accurate picture of the mycotoxin contamination in your feed, it becomes more difficult to select the right risk mitigation strategy.

Diagnosis of mycotoxicoses in animals in the field can also be challenging. Mycotoxins act at a subclinical level, contributing to various disorders, and can act as door openers for pathogens circulating in a farm, triggering diseases. Practically speaking, it is uncommon to see clear clinical signs linked only with mycotoxins. More often, other health issues or an unexplained decline in performance are a sign of mycotoxin contamination.

Recently attempts have been made in order to evaluate mycotoxin exposure in animals with the use of biomarkers taken from blood and body fluids. Despite its potential, the on-field application of mycotoxin biomarkers still has major limitations, including the timing of sampling, species-dependent differences in the metabolization of mycotoxins and a lack of biomarker reference values.

Another approach which might be more useful at present is the analysis of health markers. With this approach the differential diagnosis between mycotoxin contribution and other factors is conducted in conjunction with mycotoxin analysis in feed. Given the complexity of the topic and constantly changing nature of the mycotoxin threat, preventative application of the scientifically proven mycotoxin deactivator Mycofix® may be the best option, especially for high-value breeding animals.

[Feedinfo] Of course, for diagnostic tools and testing to have any impact, the feed formulators, veterinarians, and other actors must be aware of the need for them. How is DSM involved in educating the market about this important subject? Where are your efforts focused?

[Ursula Hofstetter] In addition to developing highly technological products and solutions, DSM invests in knowledge sharing and education with producers worldwide to raise awareness of scientific findings regarding the effects of mycotoxins in food-producing animals, and we conduct the world’s largest survey program to track the occurrence of mycotoxins to assess the risk threat to farming operations.

Using the DSM Mycotoxin Survey and Prediction Tool, we inform our customers about mycotoxin contamination and risks worldwide through training, scientific conferences, webinars and reports. We offer a full set of digital tools to help producers to evaluate and mitigate the risks for their animals.

We put strong emphasis on communicating the research we conduct on mycotoxins through our research centers and with leading academic institutions, including a considerable number of peer reviewed papers and more than 8 published books about mycotoxins. However, we also realized some years ago that an all-in-one, summarized and actionable source of information for use in the field was necessary. Therefore we’ve created the booklets for differential diagnosis of mycotoxicoses in swine and poultry and just recently we have successfully launched the version for ruminants. Through on-site customer support, our technical experts translate this scientific expertise into science-based solutions to support farmers and technicians.

[Feedinfo] Beyond attention to the mycotoxin risk, formulating with alternative feed materials can often require the use of enzymes to maximize digestibility and minimize ANFs. What changes in enzyme demand has DSM witnessed in the last few years, and what does that suggest about how animal diets are evolving?

[Kostas Stamatopoulos] The use of the appropriate feed enzymes can mitigate some of the risks that alternative feed ingredients could bring into animal diets.

More specifically, alternative cereals such as barley, oats, triticale, rye, rice, sorghum, millet and their by-products have NSP soluble fractions including arabinoxylan, B-glucans, and xyloglucans which increase digesta’s viscosity, leading to poor nutrient absorption.

Insoluble NSPs are the main components of endosperm cell walls. As monogastric animals do not have endogenous enzymes to hydrolyze the cell wall NSPs, the entrapped nutrients such as starch and protein are less available.

The appropriate use of xylanase, B-glucanase, xyloglucanase and arabinoxylan de-branching enzymes can make alternative cereals and their by-products valuable feed ingredients.

In a similar way, alternative protein meals (rapeseed/canola meal, sunflower meal, cottonseed meal, palm kernel meal, copra meal, ground nut meal, guar meal, lupins, peas, faba beans) need pectinases, mannanases, xyloglucanases and cellulases to improve the protein availability (de-caging effect) and reduce the digesta viscosity.

An exogenous feed protease can improve the protein digestibility of both vegetable and animal protein meals. Furthermore, attention should be given to phytic acid which plant-origin by-products bring to monogastric diets. Optimizing the use of advanced and stable phytases helps nutritionists to mitigate the negative effects of phytic acid and release more phosphorus and MYO-inositol.

Kostas Stamatopoulos

Senior Global Product Manager for Feed Enzymes

At DSM we have seen increased interest in all three enzyme classes (phytase, carbohydrase and protease). We observe animal diets in some regions are becoming more complex, notably in EMEA and APAC. By helping our customers incorporate local alternative feed ingredients into their formulations with a suitable enzyme strategy, we are contributing to their success, to enhanced sustainability in animal production, and to a more circular economy.

[Feedinfo] What have been the most noteworthy developments in DSM’s enzyme technology recently? What areas of research are you most excited about in terms of future developments?

[Kostas Stamatopoulos] The DSM|Novozymes Feed Enzyme Alliance has been a feed enzymes innovation powerhouse in the past decade. In just the past two years, we have introduced two major feed enzymes: ProAct360TM and HiPhoriusTM.

ProAct360TM is the first and only 2nd generation feed protease in the market. It is a higher potency molecule specifically designed for use in feed that improves the protein digestibility of the whole diet leading to substantial feed cost reduction. In addition, ProAct360TM quickly and efficiently degrades trypsin inhibitors and thus contributes to the improvement of gut health.

HiPhoriusTM is a 4th generation phytase that offers heat stability and more phosphorus release leading to more inorganic phosphorus displacement and feed cost reduction.

[Feedinfo] What other DSM nutritional solutions are particularly appreciated during times of high feed prices?

[Ursula Hofstetter] We offer our customers the market’s broadest and most innovative set of solutions in animal nutrition and health, from Essential Products to Performance Solutions + Biomin® to Precision Services. When we work together closely with our clients, they have more tools and scientific knowledge available to them to address the specific challenges that they face, whether it’s improving final product quality, managing costs, improving performance, protecting animal health and welfare, safeguarding feed quality or measuring and improving their sustainability.

High commodity prices are reminder that it’s in everyone’s interest to get the most from agricultural resources, and that efficiency and sustainability go hand in hand. Our “We Make It Possible” strategic initiative reflects our constant focus on serving our clients and ensuring that agriculture succeeds within our planetary boundaries.

Published in association with DSM