By T.J. Gaydos, DVM, MAM, Dip. ACPV
A significant portion of the poultry produced in the United States is raised without antibiotics and the quantity is expected to grow with the demands of the market. The decrease in antibiotic use is creating a larger market for non-antibiotic alternatives to improve bird health and performance. The increase in available market share has created a flood of new products; some are innovative solutions, and others are copies of existing technology. The vast number of choices makes selecting the right product more cumbersome than ever. The right product provides a benefit to the animals in production in a consistent and cost-effective manner. It is important to treat all feed and water delivered ingredients with an appropriate level of scrutiny.
The most important things to consider are:
- Experience and Reputation of the Company
- Quality Control
- Evidenced Based
- Solution that Fits the Problem
Experience and reputation of the company is an important part of the purchasing decision. Additives can be costly for the producer and the impacts are sometimes difficult to detect in the noise of production. Not every product is the right solution to every problem and integrity matters. A level of trust with the supply partner is imperative.
It is essential that the customer receives exactly what they have agreed to purchase; making quality control another pillar of a high-quality additive. Whether the additive is a plant extract, probiotic, prebiotic, or another type of ingredient, there is a functional part. The target extract, CFU count, complex carbohydrate levels, etc. must be maintained from batch to batch.
Peer-reviewed publications must be the foundation of evidence, but quality studies managed by respected individuals should not be discounted. Field trials are an important part of the product evaluation process, but it is important to recognize that the number of replicates can be low and variation and error high in a non-research setting. Simply because a product does not produce a statistically detectable result on a farm does not mean that it had no function. It may simply be that the system was too noisy to detect a subtle result.
There is no magic solution that can solve all problems. Non-antimicrobial additives are not the solution to what ails any production system, but rather are part of a strategy that includes quality nutrition, quality veterinary care, best management practices, and careful husbandry. When high quality additives are used in a systematic and evidence based way, they can be an important part of the total animal health and performance package.
Guest Author, Dr. T.J. Gaydos, is President of Gaydos Technical Services, LLC, where he uses his knowledge and relationships to help others in the poultry industry. He can be reached at (972) 841-8030.