How feed technology science is shaping a new generation for the industry

Want to know where the world of feed technology is headed?

There is no better crystal ball than the frontline of science in Western Canada.

Three institutions – the University of Manitoba, University of Saskatchewan and University of Alberta – are among the world leaders in research into feed enzymes and other key areas of livestock feed technology, making this region a hotbed of knowledge and innovation second to none on the planet.

Many of the industry game changers of tomorrow are in development right now in the labs and other facilities of these institutions. Wave after wave of new studies and trials each year unveil a wealth of new understanding set to open uncharted pathways of opportunity.

Canadian Bio-Systems Inc. has long partnered with all three institutions, and continues to do so as part of its ongoing long-term focus on robust science as the anchor to all progress. But arguably its closest science relationship over three decades of research and development is with the program led by Dr. Bogdan Slominski at the University of Manitoba.

This rich and prolific partnership spanning over 25 years has resulted in dozens of publications, numerous breakthrough advancements and many awards, including most recently the Synergy Award for Innovation from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the National Research Council Award for Innovation in Industrial Research.

Slominski himself is recognized as one of the foremost feed ingredient and feed technology scientists in the world. He not only has a front row seat to where the future is headed, he is in many ways driving the bus.

View from the leading-edge

What does he see? Here, Slominski offers some insider commentary on several key areas of progress in the research pipeline today:

The enzyme evolution continues. “The best way that I would describe the journey we are on is that we are steadily progressing down a path of major evolution from conventional to new generation enzyme supplements,” says Slominski. “In particular, a major result of our research in recent years has been to firmly establish the potential for multi-carbohydrase enzyme formulations as the way of the future for the livestock industry.”

With the right formulations, the multi-carbohydrase approach offers clear advantages to specifically target more hard-to-digest components of feed for better overall nutrient utilization, he says. “We have made a lot of progress. Several of the latest CBS Inc. products are a reflection of this. And we are learning more each year from new studies that will help us reach even higher levels of benefits.”

Yeast prospects rising. Yeast-derived products are another key technology focus for Slominski’s program. “We are finding that yeast products generally are rich sources of specific nutrients and also nucleotides, which are basic structural units of RNA and DNA. There is growing evidence that many of these products can stimulate the immune system and help set up conditions in the gut that favor beneficial bacteria and exclude certain pathogens.

We have made great progress in recent years to identify potentially valuable yeast products and investigate which ones have the most benefit for different types of livestock.

Three pillars: efficiency, health, product value. Slominski’s research program integrates three areas of innovation that align with what he sees as the greatest areas of feed technology advancement the industry can look forward to over the next decade. First is improving the efficiency of animal production. Second is supporting animal health and food safety. Third is enhancing the nutritional attributes of animal products.

“Enzyme technology and yeast-based prebiotics are tools that can unlock great potential in each of these areas,” says Slominski. “That is what we are striving towards. All benefit the producer and also improve the competitiveness and positioning of animal products in the marketplace.”

Exploring antimicrobials alternatives. Slominski and his team are also exploring the potential of using of yeast-based enzyme approaches as an alternative to antimicrobials in monogastric animal nutrition. “We’ve established opportunities to support gut development and health, and to be effective in immune system stimulation.”

Zoning in on maximum fed value. A key new frontier that has become a strong emphasis in recent years has been to explore, ingredient-by-ingredient – the most effective use of specific important feed resources commonly used or increasingly considered by the industry.

Among examples, this has included key studies on wheat and corn DDGS, wheat and wheat by-products, canola meal, dehulled canola meal, expelled soybean, expelled canola, expelled camelina, and flax, etc. “We have learned a lot to facilitate nutrient utilization and growth performance as well as lowering the cost of animal production,” says Slominski. “The more precise we are in understanding the feed components, the more effective we can be in optimizing the value we can capture.”

Partnerships drives success. Slominski sees bright horizons ahead in all of these areas and more. “Partnerships have been, and continue to be, critical to fueling my program,” says Slominski. “Great partnerships make things happen and keep us always moving ahead. Today this includes Canadian Bio-Systems Inc., the Canadian Poultry Research Council, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and others.

“It also includes the invaluable relationships we have throughout the industry at all levels, to keep us on the pulse of how things are changing, what the industry needs, and how we can do our part to keep the industry moving toward an even better future.”