As a feed ingredient manufacturer, we play a key role across the entire food value chain. It's not only about feeding animals. When we serve our customers by helping them produce more food with fewer resources and generate less waste throughout the food supply chain, we provide social, economic and environmental value and contribute to improving the quality of people's lives.
Novus provides a response to the needs of the food value chain by making a contribution to the food and nutrition availability around the world. Our global population continues to expand, heading toward 9 billion in 2050. Securing the long-term energy and nutritional requirements of communities around the world will inevitably rely upon increased availability and affordability of animal protein. Chronic malnutrition and underfeeding of populations is prevalent in emerging economies, whose need for protein will increase on an absolute and per capita basis.
The continued supply of animal protein to ensure global food security relies not only on the production of more food, but also on the increased efficiency of existing food production sources. Typically, animal feed is one of the main expenses in animal livestock production, accounting for up to 70 percent of a producer's total outlay. Food ingredient costs have soared, and profit margins of all those involved in the animal agriculture value chain have been squeezed, causing many farmers to go out of business, which has severely affected local economies. In our discussions with many customers about what's most important to them, simply making a profit is top of the list. At Novus, we direct our energies to helping our customers become more efficient at protein production, so that they can survive and thrive, and so that safer and more globally available and affordable food can be secured.
How we Help Improve Customer Profitability
Almost everything we do at Novus is directed toward the ultimate goal of improving our customers’ productivity and profitability in direct and indirect ways. We can define three main dimensions of our direct contribution to the animal agriculture sector and its ability to provide enough wholesome, affordable food for current and future generations.
There are many ways that feed conversion to protein can be optimized, enabling farmers to increase productivity and profitability. Improving the digestibility and bioavailability of important nutrients in the final feed, so that each nutrient is more available to be used in the digestive processes, increases animal productivity and performance. In addition, reducing dependency on high priced feed ingredients like corn and soybean meal while increasing the use of lower priced alternative feed ingredients reduces costs. Novus offers solutions to these opportunities, tailored to meet the needs of customers with different local circumstances around the world.
Feed Enzymes and the Triple Bottom Line
Animals require specific amino acids for the development of healthy metabolic processes that result in more muscle protein, which eventually becomes the animal protein we eat to sustain life. Using enzymes helps improve bioavailability and digestibility of a wide variety of protein feed ingredients into poultry and swine diets, while retaining the required nutrition for obtaining animal performance and productivity. By improving the amount of available amino acids to the animal from protein sources, economic benefits are gained by the ability to utilize less of the protein source. Environmentally, this means that more animals can be fed on less acreage of plant protein sources which reduces other vital resource requirements such as water, fertilizer, labor, etc.
The Novus protease enzyme product, CIBENZA® DP100, is an important solution for maintaining animal productivity and nutrition by utilizing fewer quantities of expensive feed ingredients. Novus also serves customers with other CIBENZA® enzymes which are designed to release the value of other specific nutrients, such as fiber or phosphorus.
Reducing Dependency on High Priced Feed Ingredients
Using enzymes, alternative feed raw ingredients such as canola, wheat, sunflower, palm kernel meal, rapeseed meal and meat & bone meal can all be used in greater levels in the poultry diet. These alternative ingredients are often significantly cheaper as they are locally grown or available, or are local by-products of other industries, and are not subject to significant commodity market price fluctuations as are imported soybean meal and corn.
However, there are two main challenges, especially in non-soybean growing areas which rely on imported feed ingredients, such as emerging economies in Asia and Africa. The first challenge is the generally poorer quality of local crops used for feed, which can be problematic for animal digestion. The second challenge is that alternative feed raw materials are less bioavailable to the animal, which means a lower availability of digestible amino acids. Either the animal must eat more to gain the equivalent amount of nutritional benefit, or the animal must receive assistance so that its digestive processes can successfully extract the amount of protein it needs to be equally productive. In key alternative meal ingredients such as rapeseed, sunflower or cotton seed, there is generally more than three times the amount of available indigestible protein than is found in soybean meal or maize. This lack of protein availability has traditionally been a key constraint for higher use of these alternative crops in animal feed.
CIBENZA® DP100 is able to overcome feed quality and poor bioavailability challenges and help feed producers formulate cost-effectively with local crops. This protease enzyme also works well with alternative raw materials. Using our enzyme, Novus customers can increase the amount of alternative ingredients in feed, enabling a reduction in overall feed cost. In 2013, in South Asia and South East Asia region alone, Novus helped our customers save more than $9 million in overall animal feed costs while maintaining animal productivity. At the same time, producers could take advantage of more than 100,000 tons of local alternative raw materials, avoiding expensive imports and contributing to local economic development.
Reducing Dependency on Oils and Fats
Oils and fats contain more than twice the amount of digestible energy as the carbohydrates in grain, such as soybean meal or corn. Therefore, different animal fats or vegetable oils have been traditionally added to animal feed. However, oils and fats are subject to oxidation and make feed mixes susceptible to rancidity and odor, making them unpalatable to the animal, especially in hot and humid climates such as Asia.
Further, excessive use of oils and fats can cause digestive problems and reduce animal wellbeing. Currently in the U.S. alone, producers use more than one million tons of fats in animal feeds. Using enzymes to assist in improving the bioavailability and digestibility of grain-based protein offers a potential 50 percent reduction of oils and fats. At an average, conservatively estimated, price for vegetable oil of around $500 per ton, annual net savings to feed producers and users can amount to upwards of $250 million per year, not counting the benefits associated with improved animal wellbeing, reduced organic waste and animal excretion levels.
Protease Improves Customer Profitability by $1.4 Million Per Year
In 2013, we once again proved conclusively that it is possible to deliver more eggs per dollar of feed and significantly improve poultry farm profitability.
We conducted a trial with Borovskaya Poultry Farm, one of the top three egg producers in Siberia, Russia, that delivers one billion eggs per year for the benefit of the local population. During a period of twelve weeks, 52,000 layer hens were fed with a regular diet and another 52,000 were fed with a diet supplemented by 0.05 percent of our CIBENZA® DP100 protease enzyme and up to 2 percent less soybean meal. The results of the trial show that production performance was maintained while the quantity of protein in the diet was reduced. The trial results demonstrated benefits in egg quantity and quality, with reduced food intake, thereby significantly lowering overall feed costs while improving income potential due to improved egg yield.
A net saving on layer diet cost of up to $9.90 per ton of feed was achieved through a 7.5 percent reduction of protein levels in the diet and 0.47 percent less total feed consumption per 1,000 eggs produced. This could potentially allow Borovskaya to save around 600 metric tons of feed every year based on their current farm output. This reduction in feed quantity translates into an annual saving of more than $1.4 million.
Phytase for Better Productivity and Profitability
In 2013, we introduced a new phytase enzyme product to support the range of productivity and profitability solutions we offer to our customers. The new ingredient, CIBENZA® PHYTAVERSE®, was specifically designed to unlock more of hidden nutritional value for improved animal growth and well-being with significant advantages over current phytase products available in the market. These advantages include improved stability in the gastrointestinal tract of the animal and much more resistance to gastric pH conditions than other available phytase forms. Because our CIBENZA® PHYTAVERSE® is thermostable, we do not coat our product with a protective coating to survive the heat of pelleting for inclusion in feed mixes. This has both sustainable and commercial benefits. Less manipulation in the factory leads to decreased energy needed to produce the final product. In the animals, this allows the enzyme to start working immediately in the digestive tract, as soon as moisture is present, without the delaying effect of dissolution of the protective coating. Given that in chickens, for example, an enzyme has only about 20 minutes to work, the immediate functionality of this product offers a performance advantage. This has been confirmed by several animal trial results which have demonstrated superior performance characteristics such as weight gain, feed conversion ratios and more.
CIBENZA® PHYTAVERSE® was developed in partnership over more than two years with Verenium Corporation, a recognized pioneer in the development of high-performance enzymes for different applications.
An additional benefit of phytase is an environmental one. The phytase activity that makes phosphorous available to the animal in a digestible form eliminates the need to add inorganic phosphorous supplements to animal feed, which would otherwise have to be mined from the earth. Avoidance of phosphorous sourcing for animal agriculture in quantities of hundreds of thousands of tons per year is a significant environmental advantage and protects our sources of natural resources.
Trace Minerals for Improved Hatchability
Hatchability is a key performance indicator for our poultry breeder customers. Hatchability refers to the percentage of eggs which are hatched and give birth to chicks. When the hatchability percentage increases, the productivity and profitability of the poultry breeder increases and improved accessibility to wholesome, affordable food is the result.
The breeder flock is the foundation of poultry protein (poultry meat and eggs) production and improving breeder productivity is the prime concern of our customers in this area. One of the Novus solutions to assist breeder customers to become more resilient, and improve overall productivity, is the use of chelated trace minerals. We have established a clear correlation between productivity, hatchability and chelated trace minerals. MINTREX® is used as a source of trace minerals including zinc, copper and manganese, which are chelated using HMTBa (the active ingredient in our ALIMET® feed supplement). The chelation effect is to maximize the use of minerals by the animal through greater bioavailability and digestive tract stability. Since 2004, when Novus first introduced MINTREX® to the market, this product has been a trusted nutritional solution for multiple species, providing the essential trace minerals needed for healthier animals, productivity and reproduction.
In a 2013 study conducted in Poland of four henhouses with over 4,000 hens each from 20 weeks to 55 weeks, results demonstrated that hatchable eggs increased by 7.9 percent when adding chelated trace minerals at half the level of inorganic trace minerals in the feed mix.
In the U.S. alone, around 275 million broiler hens are produced each year. If each hen delivers around 300 eggs per year, of which 7.9 percent are more hatchable, this means an additional 6.5 billion eggs per year! At an average price of $1.90 per dozen, this is an increase in productivity to a value of $1 billion for the U.S. poultry industry. At Novus, we are working closely with our customers in over 100 countries to support conversion to chelated trace minerals to assist with egg hatchability, leading to greater productivity and profitability, and more wholesome, affordable food for people around the world.
Trace Minerals for Better Profitability
Industry collaboration is essential for identifying strategies to improve sow longevity, litter performance and maintaining the profitability of the swine sector. Carthage Veterinary Service (CVS), in Illinois, U.S.A. is a practice overseeing 27 farms, representing approximately 118,000 sows. CVS works closely with industry partners, including Novus, to explore new options for performance improvement. Such collaboration between CVS and Novus took the form of a large-scale research study, to determine the benefits of chelated trace minerals. The study was conducted on two farms with a total of 6,400 sows over a period of three years. Animals on one farm were fed an inorganic mineral, while the other herd received chelated trace minerals to replace 50 percent of the inorganic minerals. The results showed that supplementation with chelated trace minerals boosted sow longevity, reproduction and skeletal health, providing a positive return on investment. Economic benefits continued for the duration of the sows' stay on the farm across the three-year trial. Sows that were fed a diet including our MINTREX® chelated trace mineral blend produced 2.7 more pigs born alive, and weaned 1.7 more pigs over four consecutive parities. That means more wholesome affordable protein and increased profitability for sow producers.
An Award for MINTREX®
In March 2013, Novus was presented the Animal Feed Ingredients Product Differentiation Excellence Award for its trace minerals product line MINTREX® at a gala hosted by Frost & Sullivan, a global research organization. Anjaneya Reddy, Industry Analyst of Frost & Sullivan, noted that MINTREX® had "earned its well-deserved reputation as the industry's best mineral source."
Methionine Increases Profit in Brazil
In Brazil, we continue to maintain our Customer Advisory Committee that brings together nutritionists and feed formulators of almost all of the large poultry producers, representing more than 80 percent of the poultry industry and also a large portion of the swine industry. This is a vibrant forum for knowledge development, sharing and discussion. In the past, the group has supported joint research into different ways of optimizing feed formulations and other aspects of poultry practices.
In 2013, the Customer Advisory Committee focused on a specific aspect of feed formulation: a strategy for managing the two most expensive elements of the animal diet, protein and energy. The idea was to develop a methodology to calculate the optimum levels of adding key amino acids into the feed mix, and also to understand the implications of applying this methodology in current formulations. In discussion, we realized that there is significant lack of alignment in the views about the optimum levels of methionine to be fed to chicken. One small change can make a big impact on producer profitability. The Customer Advisory Committee involved consultants and industry leaders from around the world to discuss methodologies and perform meaningful research. A study was performed including a field trial in collaboration with the University of Rio Grande do Sul. The research established that that industry tends to underfeed methionine and could actually become more profitable by including increased levels of methionine. The full results of our study, including the full methodology, will be freely available to assist the entire industry in Brazil and in the world in 2014 after scientific publication.
In the meantime, members of the Customer Advisory Committee are able to use the new approach and gain benefit. While the research was performed in the Brazilian market, the methodology is relevant to the poultry industry everywhere, and has the potential to make a big difference to the way poultry farmers define their strategy for feeding methionine in order to maintain animal health while maximizing proactivity and profitability.
Improving Piglet Growth
Animal producers operate in an increasingly challenging regulatory environment and part of our goal at Novus is to help our customers navigate regulatory hurdles. This is the case, for example, in Europe with the ban on the use of individual sow stalls in pig production, which came into force in January 2013. The effects of this ban are an overall reduction in the sow herd in several European countries, coupled with an increase in production costs for alternative sow housing and maintenance. Recent data shows that in the beginning of 2014, the EU counted 6.72 million less sows compared to a year before. In this context, the pressure on producers to optimize the value of each sow and piglet in the herd is even more acute. At Novus, our solution to help producers increase productivity and profitability relies first on ensuring an optimal health of the sows through a nutritional tool which supports their longevity, health status and fertility. Supplementing sow feed with MINTREX® chelated trace minerals, for copper, zinc and/or manganese, enhances their reproductive performance and increases sow survivability, resulting in less breeding herd replacement rates and higher total number of weaned piglets per sow. In piglets, MINTREX® Cu has demonstrated to support growth through a better feed intake, better feed efficiency and better immunity.
Improving Fish Gut Health
An area of focus for the Novus aquaculture research group has been developing models to better understand gut health in fish and its effect on overall farm performance. Whether in recirculation systems, net pens or ponds, fish in culture environments are exposed to potential pathogens. Maintaining gut barrier function and immunological balance is critical to assuring health and productivity. Feeds used in aquaculture today have improved in cost effectiveness and sustainability by reducing levels of expensive, limited supplies of fishmeal and fish oil. Understanding the effects on gut health of higher inclusion of alternative ingredients has allowed Novus scientists to develop supplements which can prevent inflammation and disease.
Through collaboration in the U.S., UK, Spain, Greece, China, Thailand and Vietnam, we have completed research with our prebiotic feed ingredient, PREVIDA®. We have been able to show that PREVIDA® protects the gut, contributes to improved responses to pathogens and reduces fish mortality. For example, in a trial that was completed in 2013 with young sea bream in Greece, we saw an 80 percent reduction in mortality during an outbreak of enteritis. By maintaining a strong foundation of scientific research which focuses on the health of fish, we have been at the forefront of sustainable aquaculture development. Novus solutions have allowed our feedmill customers to help prevent problems and improve fish production and profitability.
Improving Foot Pad Health
At Novus, we support animal welfare through helping our customers manage a common and increasingly important health issue in the broiler and turkey industry – foot pad health. Controlling foot pad dermatitis is important for the general health and well-being of poultry. It causes discomfort, reduced feed and water intake and results in lower overall bird performance. Foot pad lesions can also be an entry route for harmful bacteria which can potentially lead to increased bird mortality. Foot pad health has become a major indicator of overall bird health and is considered as a parameter in animal welfare regulations in the EU.
In addition to animal welfare considerations, foot pad health also has a big influence on customer productivity and profitability. Chicken and turkey paws, alongside breast and wings, are the most economical parts of the chicken, so foot pad dermatitis can significantly impact farm income. In China, for example, chicken paws are imported at the level of 200–300,000 per year with a trade value of more than $300 million. Such trade is possible only when paws are healthy and show no lesions or blemishes.
A healthy intestinal tract maintained through well-adjusted nutrition helps to support litter quality and thus reduce or prevent the incidence of foot pad dermatitis on a farm. A healthy intestinal environment, free of unwelcome microorganisms, will assure optimal nutrient digestibility and reduces the incidence of diarrhea, a prerequisite for maintaining high growth performance and a good litter condition. Low quality litter can also be damaging to the local environment.
Within the last year, our research has focused on opportunities to effectively and economically maintain gut health in poultry as a way to reduce the severity of foot pad dermatitis. In 2013, an innovative, scientifically tested nutritional solution, based on a blend of protected aromatic compounds including benzoic acid, was introduced in the poultry industry: AVIMATRIX®. Its slow release formulation is developed specifically for use in commercial poultry diets and to act optimally along the entire intestinal tract of the bird.
A recent study, performed in cooperation with the University of Berlin, and published at the European Symposium of Poultry Nutrition in Germany in 2013, evaluated the positive effects of AVIMATRIX® and found that higher levels of beneficial (lactic acid) bacteria and lower levels of E. coli were found in the intestinal tract of the AVIMATRIX® fed birds. Such a shift is usually associated with improved gut health and higher growth of the animal.
Additionally, the benefit of AVIMATRIX® on reducing foot pad lesions was evaluated under different commercial situations in three broiler operations (Germany, Denmark and Italy) and foot pad dermatitis scores by flock were calculated, as proposed in the EU directive. In all three broiler houses, the addition of AVIMATRIX® in the diet improved foot pad health in a range of 22-50 percent. In a 2013 trial in the Czech Republic with young broilers in commercial conditions, severe foot pad lesions significantly reduced and foot pad score improved by 26 percent.
Dairy farm productivity can be maximized in different ways, and we know that feed composition, general animal health and husbandry practices have a significant impact on animal well-being and farming efficiency. One 2008 study fed the exact same diet to dairy cows at 47 dairies, and found that daily milk production per cow ranged from 45 to 74 pounds per day. In particular, the study showed that non-dietary factors (for example, facility and management factors) accounted for over half of this variation in milk yield. This highlights the importance of good husbandry and management practices to maximize animal well-being, production,-- and overall profitability.
The Novus C.O.W.S.® Program
Over the past three years, we have invested in a groundbreaking study, the largest of its kind in the world, which assesses animal husbandry practices in the dairy industry, and the subsequent implications for both animal welfare and productivity. We maintain a team of qualified technicians, who work closely with farm owners, nutritionists, herd managers and veterinarians to understand herd practices and the impacts on cow comfort and productivity. Between 2010 and 2013, we assessed 75,000 cows and 400 farms, some multiple times. The results provide incredible insight into performance by size of farm, region, and general management practice, and help understand the bottlenecks that affect cow comfort, productivity, and ultimately, dairy farm profitability. We have been able to repeat assessments at over 20 farms, thereby understanding the measure of improvement that was achieved after implementation of changes made by farm owners after having been presented with information that helped them understand where productivity bottlenecks were occurring in their farm management practices.
Learning from 75,000 Cows
Highlights from three years of data:
- The time that dairy cows spend lying down is an important measure of their welfare and influences overall health and milk production. Lying time needs differ from cow to cow, but research indicates that cows can potentially produce an average of 3.7 pounds more milk per day for every additional hour of lying time (although this will vary greatly between individual cows and herds).
- Cows in the Northeast have higher lameness prevalence, while cows in California and the Midwest tend to display overall lower lameness. Lameness has been shown to negatively affect productivity. This information may be of assistance to dairymen in the Northeast and provide opportunities to learn how to reapply or adapt practices from another region.
- Time Away from Pen (TAFP) for milking ranges between 1.9 to 7.7 hours per day in the U.S. Midwest. One study found that reducing TAFP from six hours to three hours per day led to an increase in milk production of five pounds per day.
- The immense detail of our cow comfort research enables us to draw conclusions that lead to tailored solutions for each farm. For example, on farms in the Northeast, our data* show that simple changes to stall bedding can result in more lying time, which could result in a reduction in overall lameness and greater milk production.
(*Data published in "Associations between herd-level factors and lying behavior of freestall-housed dairy cows, K. Ito, N. Chapinal, D. M. Weary and M. A.G. von Keyserlingk, Animal Welfare Program, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada)
A Success Story in Animal Productivity
In less than one year, a family-owned dairy in New York maintained milk production while reducing culling rate, halving the prevalence of lameness and knee injuries, and delivering improved milk quality for higher-profit sales.
The dairy, with around 600 milking cows, was challenged by lameness and a relatively high culling rate. The lameness challenge negatively affected feed conversion and milk productivity. The family farm needed a solution and underwent a Novus C.O.W.S.® assessment. Eight months later, after making changes to stalls and bedding based on productivity bottlenecks identified through the assessment, the farm was re-assessed and found to be delivering astounding results. Lying time increased, lameness and injuries were reduced, somatic cell count (an important measure of milk quality) reduced, and all the while maintaining milk production.
The changes were made with an investment of around $20,000. Stalls were retrofitted and manure pumps were added for the handling of sand. Cows were housed on shallow-bedded sand stalls rather than waterbeds in order to increase their lying time and reduce injury. Farm owners confirmed that the Novus C.O.W.S.® assessment had "opened their eyes" to opportunities based on comparative benchmarked cow comfort data from other herds assessed in the Northeast. A further benefit of the Novus C.O.W.S.® assessment was that financing was more easily available. The "hard data" on potential improvement areas proved a convincing aid to secure financing for these alterations. In this case, the investment was highly positive for the dairy as it improved cow comfort and productivity, and lead to a more efficient and sustainable dairy.