International Phytate Summit focuses on precision nutrition

Academia and industry are determined to make animal performance gains through the destruction of the anti-nutrient phytate

New discoveries in the science that underpins feed efficacy could bring significant value to the animal feed industry, according to academics and researchers at the 3rd International Phytate Summit (IPS3).

Hosts of the meeting were University of Arkansas, the University of Illinois and AB Vista. Top scientists and nutritionists from 22 countries gathered to discuss the positive benefits of precision nutrition and, in particular, the destruction of the anti-nutrient phytate.

AB Vista senior research manager Dr. Carrie Walk said new understandings of the wide-ranging negative impacts of phytate on animal nutrition are likely to bring about positive changes to dietary formulation.

“We know that phytate destruction in the intestinal tract has massive benefits on nutrient utilization and performance,” said Dr. Walk. “Four or five years ago, people were using phytase to release phosphorus. Now we understand more about phytate and its influence on nutrients as well as animal performance, and we can formulate diets based on more complete phytate destruction and provision of nutrients beyond phosphorus.”

Hans H. Stein, professor of Animal Science at the University of Illinois, agreed. “Currently, discussion in the swine industry is focused on calcium digestibility and formulating diets based on digestible calcium," said Stein. "Results of research indicate that phytase increases calcium digestibility—so this effect should be taken into consideration when it comes to diet formulation.”

IPS3 saw a renewed commitment between academics and industry representatives to connect the science of enzymes and feed ingredients to real-world application, said Dr. Mike Kidd, University of Arkansas. One such area of research is amino acids, where under- or over-supply can significantly impact animal performance.

“Phytase appears to influence amino acid digestibility, so researching the underlying mechanisms is really important if we’re going to take the next steps in understanding what’s going on,” said Dr. Kidd. “We look at data and think about phytate and phytase—but can we look at it and say phytate has changed the amino acid requirement of a chicken?”

Professor Merlin Lindemann of the University of Kentucky said that such new developments in the industry’s understanding of nutrition could have a significant impact on feed formulation. “When one realizes that the benefits of superdosing phytase to destroy the anti-nutrient phytate actually go beyond calcium and phosphorus release to amino acid release, trace mineral release, whole body energetics improvement, then one wonders what other unanticipated benefits there may be,” said Lindemann.