Enteric disease costs the poultry industry billions of dollars each year and has become a greater challenge to control due to the reduction in the use of antibiotic growth promoters. However, research has shown that feeding the mineral-based feed additive Varium® (available in select international markets) throughout a broiler’s lifetime can help them naturally defend against the production-limiting effects of pathogens and improve overall bird performance, leading to greater profitability for producers.
Lifetime Benefits of Varium®
Keeping the intestinal environment of birds healthy, thereby allowing effective nutrient absorption and defense against pathogens and their toxins, is an important component of profitable antibiotic-free production. Amlan has developed a range of natural mineral-based products, like Varium, that are designed to support a healthy intestinal environment and add value for poultry producers.
Varium is a synergistic formulation of our proprietary mineral technology, whole yeast and a functional amino acid that promotes efficiency and productivity in poultry. Feeding Varium throughout the lifetime of the bird can help reduce pathogenic challenges, strengthen the intestinal barrier and safely stimulate the intestinal immune system to naturally defend against disease.
Long-Term Studies Demonstrate Varium Benefits
The ability of Varium to improve production performance was demonstrated in two studies. In a 42-day broiler study, birds were fed either a standard diet (control), a diet supplemented with the antibiotic bacitracin methylene disalicylate (BMD; 55 g bacitracin/MT of feed), or a diet supplemented with Varium (0.25%). All birds were given typical vaccinations on day of hatch.
Varium showed similar performance advantages to BMD over the control group. Feed conversion was 1.69 for both the Varium and BMD groups and 1.73 for the control group (Figure 1). Similarly, weight gain was greater for the BMD and Varium groups compared to the control (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Broilers fed Varium or BMD had similar feed conversion ratio and weight gain (kg) and were better than the control in a 42-day study.
In another study, Varium was compared to tylosin in a commercial broiler grow-out operation in Brazil that processes approximately 170,000 birds per day. Tylosin (55 ppm) and an enzyme-based mycotoxin deactivator were added to the diet for 12 months then removed from the diet and Varium (0.1%) added for the following 12 months. No significant differences were observed between the tylosin plus mycotoxin binder and Varium for average body weight, average age at processing, average daily gain, feed conversion rate (FCR), performance efficiency index (PEI) or mortality (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Varium performed similar to tylosin plus a mycotoxin binder in a commercial poultry operation over a 12-month period.
Varium Provides Producers a Return on Their Investment
These long-term studies demonstrate the benefit of daily Varium supplementation to support the health and performance of broilers. However, with feed being approximately 70% of production costs, it is also important to ensure that feed additives are economically viable. Therefore, the cost advantage of lifetime Varium supplementation was calculated.
A broiler economic evaluation model was developed based on a trial conducted by a broiler producer in Brazil. One group of birds (control) were fed an antibiotic growth promoter (AGP) and a non-Amlan mycotoxin binder and another group were fed Varium (the AGP and mycotoxin binder were replaced by Varium in the diet). The study was conducted at three farms with 30,000 control and 30,000 Varium-fed broilers on each farm (total of 90,000 control and 90,000 Varium-fed birds).
Input amounts for chick cost, grower payment per kg, catch and haul cost per kg and overhead cost per kg were the same for both groups. Normal production key performance indicators were measured and showed a noticeable improvement in FCR and livability for Varium-fed broilers (Table 1). The economic model showed that Varium improved profit per kg live weight by 1.03 cents and profit per kg eviscerated carcass by 1.43 cents, which contributes to a significant improvement in the overall profitability of the operation.
Table 1: Varium provides a significant economic advantage when used throughout the lifetime of broilers.
For more details on the calculations used in this model, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This economic model demonstrates that adding Varium to a broiler diet can provide a substantial return on investment for poultry producers. Feeding Varium throughout the lifetime of the bird, not just during periods of highest risk for disease challenge, can help support a functional intestinal environment that keeps birds healthy and producing efficiently. For more information on Varium, contact your local Amlan representative.