As swine producers have faced a range of challenges in recent months, the pace of advancement and adoption in feed technology has remained a bright spot helping operations to maximize results.

“The world of swine production is evolving,” says feed technology specialist Dr. Anhao (Tony) Wang. “For producers and their industry, the good news is that feed and nutrition knowledge is also advancing – offering a new generation of solutions.”

Here are some of the top trends for Fall 2020:

Feed integrity in focus

Feed integrity especially at this time of year is a top priority, says Wang, who was trained at the University of Saskatchewan and has a strong research focus on feed and mycotoxin studies. This is particularly important with greater awareness and understanding of the rising threat of mycotoxins and other grain contaminant issues.

Feed quality challenges often fluctuate from year to year, he says. Feed technology options have the ability to allow producers to safeguard feed quality and ensure they are getting the absolute most benefit from their feed.

“Today we have better knowledge and solutions to provide peace of mind for producers,” says Wang. “Feed technology options can go a long way to help each operation ensure it is getting the greatest efficiency, benefits and overall results.”

The feed technology options for Western Canadian producers have never been better, he adds. “The science has advanced. The knowledge has advanced. The latest technologies represent a brand new level of innovation.”

Interventions using feed technology should be applied strategically based on proper sample collection and analysis. A number of high-quality options exist to support clean feed before consumption by the animal.

Further options exist to protect the animal from possible contaminants that are consumed. "When looking at the possible options for animal protection, a key focus is activity in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT), which is both the site of nutrient absorptions and a major immune organ with a crucial role in maximizing performance," says Wang. "The GIT represents the first site of exposure to mycotoxins or feed-borne pathogens."

Today's top feed technology options active within the GIT serve a "Protect. Bind. Repair." role, he says.

New tools such as MCFA

Overall, a ‘new toolbox’ for swine production is emerging that supports optimal results with or without use of antibiotics. One of the best examples is Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA) feed technology.

MCFA offer a fresh approach to enhance swine diets and support integrated swine management strategies designed to optimize animal health and performance across all key phases of production including transportation of animals.

This technology is well established in Europe where it has a strong track record and reputation as a commonly used feed additive option, and has helped production systems sustain or optimize animal wellness and performance while they successfully transition toward a reduction or removal of the use of antibiotics.

MCFA have seen major gains in adoption in Western Canada. The leading type of patented MCFA used for commercial feed additive purposes presents the MCFA in a form that is unbranched and “free” with no double bonds or ring structures. This makes them highly maneuverable and active immediately.

Much of the science and commercial development exploring the benefits of MCFA for feed additive use has focused on understanding and supporting the capacity of MCFA as a functional feed ingredient with a role in influencing gut wellness and morphology.

Platforms expand potential

Additional key areas offering benefits for swine production continue to advance.

Multi-Carbohydrase technology is a leading-edge area of enzyme technology that involves utilizing multiple enzymes with multiple activities to achieve a high level of targeted feed breakdown and nutrition capture.

Enhanced yeast technology features natural growth promoter (NGP) activity supporting healthy animals and optimized productivity.

Phytogenics & probiotics represent innovative plant-based extract technology that helps support a positive and nurturing environment critical to get the most efficiency and benefits from feed and nutrition approaches.

Bio-based approaches also fit with the preferences of consumers who particularly over the past decade have shown greater interest in where their food comes from and how it is produced. Because bio-based feed technology represents science-based formulations of quality nutrition enhancing ingredients utilizing natural processes, they are viewed as a positive input to agriculture and food systems.