These days, animal feed is a complex, high-performance product. It has to meet the very high energy requirements of dairy cows and beef cattle, while simultaneously supplying the animal with essential nutrients and functional additives. The latter is provided by particular supplementary feed and pre-mixes, which is added to the energy-rich forage depending on requirements.
Avoiding anti-nutritional effects: Energy-rich feed grains contain, for example, phytochemicals that are themselves indigestible to the animals and also have a negative effect on the digestion and resorption of nutrients. To avoid such anti-nutritional effects, specific enzymes are added to the feed that help digest these substances. A balanced mix of essential amino acids is also added to increase the forage yield. It enables the animals to fully absorb the available protein building blocks and use them for milk production or to build up muscle mass. In addition to feeding efficiency, animal health is also a focus. Because the use of antibiotics has been limited, the feed is supplemented with active substances such eubiotics, vitamins and phytogenic additives to enhance the immune system of cattle.
The supplementary feed must fulfil various functions, which in turn determines the requirements for the additives. Highly concentrated substances in feed must be homogeneously distributed and the active ingredients must remain stable during manufacturing and throughout the storage period. Many feed additives exert their activity at particular points of the digestive tract and may thus require a functional layer that releases the active ingredient at just the right time.
Coating is the magic word to solve such demanding requirements.
Protection or Targeted Release: Different Coatings for Different Purposes
A coating of polymers achieves different functional properties. An additive can be protected from oxygen, temperature fluctuations or humidity or it can be released in a controlled way. The solubility of a coating material can vary depending on the pH, thus being released in either the acidic or the alkaline portion of the digestive tract. Hydrophobic coatings protect against moisture and degrade slowly. The release of ingredients can therefore be significantly delayed if they are encapsulated by lipids. The following two examples describe the effect of a coating and the improved properties of such products.
Enzymes in the Pelleting Process
Enzymes facilitate very specific reactions and are used to degrade particular indigestible feed ingredients. For example, enzymes that digest non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) are not present in the animal's digestive tract and thus must be made available to the animal. Due to their protein structure, enzymes are temperature sensitive and lose their activity as a consequence of moisture and high temperatures during the pelleting process. A protective layer functioning as a barrier can prevent such irreversible damage to the protein structure. Coating enzyme particles with a closed hydrophobic lipid layer prevents moisture from penetrating and thus increases pelleting stability.
Essential Amino Acids for Dairy Cows
Another example of coatings applied to feed additives makes it possible to supply dairy cows optimally with essential amino acids, which they require for the production of milk. Especially for high yielding cows, the content of essential amino acids in feed is often insufficient. A balanced supply of lysine and methionine enables the cow to use the protein contained in the feed completely and thus produce the maximum amount of milk. Because absorption of essential amino acids is in the small intestine, they must be protected by a lipid layer or a pH-dependent coating during their passage through the rumen.
IPC specializes in further processing feed additive material to the finished coated pellet. Our production is certified according to FAMI QS and meets all the requirements for the production of feed additives.
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