Interview: Phytase superdosing enables greater digestion of trace minerals

Published Thursday, 20th October 2016
Interview  phytase superdosing enables greater digestion of trace minerals

In recent years, a movement towards lowering the inclusion rates of trace minerals in feed has been building, driven by a desire to minimize the environmental discharge of these minerals via animal waste. Within the European Union, EFSA's Feedap panel recommended a reduction in the authorized maximum concentration of zinc in animal feed in 2014, and weighed in on reductions in copper levels in August of this year. 

However, many in the animal production sector feel that this puts them in an impossible position, requiring them to meet ever higher demands on animal performance while facing ever more restrictions on the applications of tools helping them to reach those performance expectations. AB Vista’s Ari Kiviniemi, Global Sales Director, and Dr. Rob ten Doeschate, EMEA Technical Director, argue that one solution to the dilemma could lie in better addressing the impacts that the anti-nutrient phytate has on the digestion and absorption of trace minerals. In an interview with Feedinfo News Service, they lay out the idea that more efficient feed could allow reductions in mineral supplementation without impacts on performance.

Why is the relationship between trace minerals, phytate and phytase relevant today?

[Dr. Rob ten Doeschate] In truth of course this has always been relevant, but as we learn more about these interactions it becomes clearer that the interaction between dietary phytate levels, use of phytase and trace mineral supplementation can impact animal performance. Also, as government regulations may change to reduce allowed levels of trace mineral supplementation, mainly to reduce potential environmental damage from excreted trace minerals, there is more interest in exploring this.

Can phytase use help animals to maintain performance at lower supplementation levels of trace minerals?

[Dr. Rob ten Doeschate] The evidence is growing that breaking down phytate (IP6) not only releases phosphorous, it also allows more efficient digestion and absorption of trace minerals. Superdosing with Quantum Blue has shown positive effects in relation to Zinc, Iron, Copper and Selenium. This may be measured in straight performance, but also in higher levels of these trace minerals appearing in the blood or being deposited in egg yolk. Consequently performance may potentially be maintained at reduced mineral supplementation levels.

Are lower esters of phytate (for example, IP4 and IP3) also problematic for the availability of trace minerals like IP6 phytate is?

[Dr. Rob ten Doeschate] Whilst the anti-nutritional effects from IP4 and IP3 are not as strong as those from IP6, it has been shown that partial destruction of phytate (for instance from IP6 to IP4) is not sufficient to maximise solubility of trace minerals such as Zinc and Iron, i.e. IP4 and IP3 are still a problem. The advantage of Quantum Blue superdosing is that it has the capability of degrading all the way down to IP1, without the accumulation of IP4-3. IP1 is then further processed by the phosphatases in the animal to Inositol. Quantum Blue has been shown to more effectively degrade IP6 all the way to IP1, resulting in a higher Inositol level in vivo, and that has been linked to better performance in swine and broilers. 

Are all commercially available phytases capable of delivering these results?

[Ari Kiviniemi] There are real differences between the commercial phytases present on the market in their ability to degrade phytate quickly, efficiently and effectively enough to have a real positive impact on performance. Quantum Blue has shown itself to be very effective in the superdosing application, and there is a lot of experience both at research and commercial level with this.

How widely understood is the idea that employing phytase superdosing can improve the availability of trace minerals? Are people looking at the opportunities this can bring?

[Dr. Rob ten Doeschate] It is always difficult to know how much people understand an idea like this, but it is probably something that is as yet insufficiently discussed. As a consequence there are probably missed opportunities, but we are seeing more interest and people exploring the options, not only in relation to Zinc and Copper, which may be particularly relevant due to proposed EU regulation changes, but also in relation to Iron and Selenium, where there may be performance improvements in various animal categories.

Is this strategy—using phytase superdosing to increase the absorption of trace minerals—cost effective for customers who are not facing regulatory pressure to reduce the inclusion rate of copper and zinc in animals’ diets?

[Dr. Rob ten Doeschate] Of course, whether this is cost-effective depends on a variety of local factors, such as the cost of feed, the value of better animal performance and the cost of implementation of phytase superdosing. Normally we see a very good return on investment for Quantum Blue superdosing simply in terms of better animal performance. If the strategy is used to mitigate the negative impact of reductions in Copper and Zinc on animal performance, then this cost-effectiveness is still there. 

Since AB Vista’s phytase Quantum Blue has been available in the European Union, how have European producers adopted superdosing? What do you expect in the future?

[Ari Kiviniemi] Quantum Blue has quickly become AB Vista’s bestselling product in the EU. We have seen an enthusiastic uptake of superdosing in various parts of Europe, and we continue to see the use of this concept growing as people try it and get convinced by the results. We expect that in the future, eliminating the negative effects of phytate in the feed will become the main focus in applying phytases, and for that, feed producers will need a phytase that effectively breaks down phytate as completely as possible, even when the phytate concentration in the feed and digesta is low.

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