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Animal Health

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Livestock Production
Tuesday, April 12, 2005 12:44:19 PM
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Biotronic® and Biomin® P.E.P. in modern animal nutrition - A sustainable alternative for feed safety, animal health and anti-biotic free growth promotion in pig production

Christian Luckstadt



Animals require a constant supply of high-grade nutrients in order to be able to ensure growth and reproduction. These nutrients are obtained as feed. Feed quality is of outstanding importance here and is reflected in a balanced formulation of the essential ingredients. To secure this quality combination of organic acids, their salts and phytobiotica have proved to be a promising feed additive for an anti-biotic free feeding concept. The products of the Biotronic® and Biomin®  P.E.P. product line contribute in this case to an improvement of feed safety as well as digestion. Furthermore, due to the higher feed intake, the animal will have an increased growth performance, which will lead finally to an economic livestock production.


Agricultural production and the feed industry continue to suffer from losses caused by contamination of feeding stuffs with pathogenic bacteria and associated effects on the livestock, such as lower daily weight gain and increased mortality. The prohibition of anti-biotics as growth promoters in feeding in the EU as of 2006 exerts additional pressure on both branches of the economy, but is also one way of putting an end to consumer reservations regarding the safety of products of animal provenance and thus of restoring and preserving lost customer confidence in agricultural production in the long term. Under this aspect acidifier consisting of a balanced combination of high-quality acids are a promising option for replacing antibiotic feed additives adequately in a concept with other feed additives, such as probiotics, phytobiotics and prebiotics. In this case, the products of the Biotronic® and Biomin®  P.E.P. product line proved to be a promising alternative.


Feed safety - mode of action of organic acids


The potential of organic acids in forage preservation as well as in livestock nutrition has been known for decades and is documented by many scientific experiments. Acids, including propionic acid, make a fundamental contribution to feed hygiene, since they suppress the growth of mould and thus restrict the potential effect of mycotoxins. Consequently feed safety is guaranteed by adding an organic acid. However, other acids and their salts have also been added to the feed for a long time, for instance formic acid, sorbic acid and fumaric acid. A strong bactericidal and bacteriostatic effect has been demonstrated for formic acid, the shortest-chain organic acid. These effects are based on one hand on a reduction of the pH-value by adding the acid to the feed, and after its intake in the animal too, and on the other hand on the antimicrobial effect of the acid. The effect of the individual acids varies widely and is based chiefly on their degree of dissociation. Each acid has a specific pK-value that states the pH-value at which the acid is 50 percent dissociated. With the aid of this value it is possible to determine the action of each single acid at a certain pH-value.


Based on these fundamentals it is possible to distinguish acids which act more antimicrobial at a certain pH-value, for example in feed, - in other words that are not or only slightly dissociated - from acids that lower the pH-value - and are thus largely dissociated. Lowering the pH-value in the feed leads to a lower buffer capacity and thus promotes digestion in the animal, since less hydrochloric acid has to be produced in the stomach to activate the pepsin and thus optimal protein digestion is ensured. Stable digestion also promotes a balanced intestinal flora - eubiosis. Furthermore, a lower production of hydrochloric acid by the animal itself saves energy which can be spent for other metabolic processes instead.


In addition reducing the pH-value creates more difficult conditions for the growth of potentially dangerous bacteria (Fig. 1), since the growth of these gram-negative pathogenic bacteria is related to the surrounding pH-value (pH-level below optimal level for bacterial growth). Thus reducing the pH-value also has an indirect anti-microbial effect.


 Figure 1: pH-optima for pathogenic bacteria



However, this is based chiefly on the capacity of organic acids in their non-dissociated condition to break through the cell walls of gram-negative bacteria and penetrate into the cell. In the cell the acids dissociate into a hydrogen cation and an acid anion. The cation also reduces the pH-value in the interior of the cell, which then has to be corrected under high-energy loss for the cell, and the anion interrupts the DNA synthesis of the cell core directly. This dual impact mechanism effectively obstructs bacteria reproduction.

Improved digestion and feed uptake - Phytogenic feed additives

Phytogenic feed supplements or feed additives are of plant origin, whereby extracts mainly from herbs and spices are used. The digestion promoting and appetising effects of certain herbs and spices has been part of human nutrition for a very long time. The chemical analysis of the composition of herbs and spices reveals a great variety of different chemical substances, which not only have different aromatic characteristics, but also a variety of biological effects, e.g. antioxidative, fungicidal, anti-microbial and physiological effects.


The use of phytobiotics is gaining increasing popularity for the inclusion to animal feeds, mainly originated from the ban of most antibiotics for the use in animal feeds. On the opposite to antibiotics, phytogenic feed additives have a greater impact on the different factors which promote the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Their mode of action is therefore more indirect and is based on a more holistic approach, which can support the endogenous defence mechanisms of the animal, and thus can be considered a more sustainable solution in the long run. Phytogenic feed additives can have a positive influence on saliva production and production of gastric acid and can thus not only increase appetite and feed intake, for instance in weaned piglets, but can also have a positive effect on the release of digestive enzymes and support digestion. Hence, there is a synergistic effect between phytobiotics on one hand and organic acids on the other in the improvement of the digestion, mainly in the stomach. This holds true particularly in weaners, since young pigs are not yet able to produce enough gastric juice on their own. 


 Figure 2: Effects in Feed - Stomach - Intestine


Furthermore, in case of a healthy digestive system fewer nutrients reach the colon and thus there are also less nutrients available to the growth of potential pathogens, which mainly reside in this part of the digestive tract (Fig. 2). Also, the type of nutrients, which get into the digestive system, influence the composition of the intestinal micro-flora. Fructo-oligosaccharides, a carrier of the used phytobiotics, can only be used by specific bacteria, in this case bifido bacteria. Therefore fructo-oligosaccharides in the feed have a positive influence on the composition of the micro flora in the gastro-intestinal tract.


Biomin® combined product lines


Biotronic® and Biomin® P.E.P. products are GRAS, which means they are non hazardous, completely biodegradable as well as no residues will occur and they require therefore no withdrawal time. Furthermore the combination of Biotronic® and Biomin® P.E.P. product lines stands for its user-friendly application and mixture.


The use of Biotronic® and Biomin® P.E.P. is recommended for the control of gram-negative bacteria, including E. coli und Salmonella in the gastro-intestinal tract of pigs. The combination of both products acts preventive against diarrhoea and other bacteria related digestive disorders, especially after weaning. It supports furthermore a healthy gut micro flora and leads to eubiosis. Additionally an increase in appetite and related to this, an improved feed uptake can be noticed. This leads to an improved feed conversion and finally to an economical livestock production in the farm. Besides, the product takes up and removes possible toxic metabolites from the gut and can have therefore a beneficial effect on litter consistency. The recommended dosage of the combined products is between 3 kg and 7 kg per t finished feed (Tab. 1, Tab. 2).



Table 1: Results of a combined use of Biotronic®  and Biomin®  P.E.P. in a university trial in Kingsville, USA


Biotronic® and Biomin® P.E.P. trial with weaned piglets (n = 192), USA, 2003; duration 56 days;

treatment: 3 kg Biotronic® and 2kg Biomin® P.E.P. per t of feed;

control: 1 kg anti-biotic growth promotor pert



Biotronic + P.E.P.

Difference (%)

Initial weight (kg)




Final weight (kg)




Avg. daily weight gain(g)





Mortality in the treated group was significantly reduced by 48%, compared to the control group.



Table 2: Results of Biotronic®  and Biomin®  P.E.P. field trial in Rendsburg, Germany


Biotronic® and Biomin® P.E.P. trial with weaned piglets (n = 84), Germany, 2003; duration 35 days;

treatment: 3 kg Biotronic® and 2 kg Biomin® P.E.P. per t of feed;

control: without acid-phytobiotic blend



Biotronic + P.E.P.

Difference (%)

Initial weight (kg)




Final weight (kg)




Avg. daily weight gain (g)




Feed intake (g / d)




Energy intake / kg weight gain(MJ)




Feed conversion ratio





The improved results in the treated group are due to a heavy E.coli infection in the control group.


These results prove that safe feed can lead to improvement of livestock performance and thus logically prove that it is economically expedient to use acid combinations in livestock production (Tab. 3).



Table 3: Economic analyis of the field trial in Rendsburg, Germany


Based on an average pig prize of 50,- USD per 25 kg pig (each additional kg was accounted with 1,25 USD / kg; pigs with an avg. weight of 24.9 kg were taxed with 49.50 USD), an avg. feed prize of 44.38 USD per 100 kg and product prize of Biotronic® and Biomin® P.E.P. was included.



Total Live Weight (kg)

Total Turnover (USD)

Total Feed Costs (USD)

Earning / Trial (USD)

Earning / Pig(USD)







Biotronic + P.E.P.
















During recent years attention has been focused more on the safety and quality of livestock feed, not least due to increasing interest shown by the media. As a result of the planned discontinuation of anti-biotics in feed it is necessary to find alternative feeding concepts, but these must be understood as a chance. If the potential effects of acid blends and phytobiotics like Biotronic® and Biomin® P.E.P. are used and implemented in line with practice, these combined additives can be a part of the new feeding concept leading to cost-effective as well as sustainable livestock production.


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