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New questions about using enzymes in pig, poultry feed

Enzymes are being used with increasingfrequency in pig and poultry feed, but questions regarding their combined effects remain largelywithout concrete answers.

It is no secret enzyme usage has increased worldwide because prices of cereals and soybean meal have reached unprecedented levels. Enzymes, such as carbohydrases and proteases, and even phytases, can offer a small, but apparently significant boost in energy and protein digestibility. But, if adding one enzyme can be beneficial, perhaps adding another one can double the effect; or perhaps not?

In the past two years, I have been involved with many customers and colleagues in discussions regarding such potential synergistic and additive effects of enzymes. Here’s an example:

One customer was already adding a phytase in his broiler feeds and, despite controversial evidence, he was attributing a small energy and protein positive effect to this enzyme. But, he reasoned if he now added a carbohydrase and a protease, perhaps this small ‘bump‘in digestibility from phytase would disappear, or perhaps not. We can speculate on either case, but truth is, there are no hard data to shed any light to such questions.

A fellow nutrition consultant was interested in knowing if using two different carbohydrases, both at maximum dosage, could ensure maximal animal response in terms of energy digestibility; each enzyme was attacking a different (but inter-related inside the kernel’s matrix) type of carbohydrate. Perhaps, he wondered, breaking down non-starch polysaccharides and releasing otherwise-captured starch would reduce the effect of an amylase. Again, hard to draw any concrete conclusions.

I suspect, that such and many other questions are flooding the enzyme companies worldwide as customers are trying to increase usage in an effort to reduce the cost of nutrition.

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