The impact of acidifiers in replacement of antibiotic growth promoters
Over the past several years much research effort has been devoted to investigating alternative feed additives which might fill the gap left by the withdrawal of AGPs and prevent widespread production problems.
One group of feed additives which has demonstrated some potential in this regard is the feed acidifiers, which have been shown to be particularly effective in weaner pig diets.
In an extensive analysis of published data on formic, fumaric and citric acids, Partanen and Mroz (1999) found that these acids generally enhanced average daily gain of weaned piglets and improved their feed conversion efficiency.
The majority of weaner diets now contain some form of organic acid supplementation plus a variety of other alternative products such as pre and pro biotics.
Organic acids are generally less effective in grower finisher diets than in weaner diets although they can show beneficial effects depending on choice of acid and particular farm circumstance. Some acids have specific bactericidal effects against Salmonella and hence are being increasingly used in Salmonella control.
Feed acidifiers are generally organic acids, organic compounds which have a carboxyl group (-COOH).
This dissociates in solution releasing a proton hence giving the compound acidic properties.
Although there are an enormous number of organic acids, many of which are found naturally occurring in the body, eg fatty acids, amino acids, nucleic acids, only relatively few of these are used as feed acidifiers.
These are characterised by short carbon chain lengths of up to seven and may include more than one carboxyl group. All can occur naturally in the body and as such can readily be metabolized.
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Article made possible through the contribution of World Nutrition Forum-Biomin.