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Calibrin®-Z Decreases Gizzard Erosion in Day-Old Chicks

The gizzard is an important part of the gastrointestinal tract of poultry. The gizzard works to grind feed which enables digestion and absorption of nutrients to take place in species that lack teeth.

While the gizzard is a tough, muscular organ, the lining of the gizzard can be susceptible to damage as it interacts with the feed coming through the gastro-intestinal tract. Damage to the gizzard lining can cause reduced feed intake, low growth rates, poor feed conversion, and in severe cases increased mortality – all leading to poor flock performance. Gizzard erosion has numerous causes and is seen as early as day-old chicks. Early damage to the gizzard lining leads to increased morbidity and mortality in newly hatched chicks and can be attributed to the incubation process or to the hen’s diet.

Gizzard damage is not a new problem in the industry. It was discussed in research publications in the 1930s. But gizzard damage, and the loss of performance that it causes, continue to be a prevalent problem. In 2018 gizzard damage was reported as the most common enteric problem of flocks in Asia (Elanco Field Report presented at the 11th Asia Pacific Poultry Conference March 25-27, 2018). “Gizzard erosion can act as a hidden destroyer of performance in broilers. While it rarely outright kills the birds it will make them back off of feed and decrease growth rates. Field data has shown that hen feeds containing mycotoxins can have a negative impact on progeny.  The transmission of mycotoxins through the egg can produce gizzard erosions in chicks before they ever take the first bite of feed themselves,” said Jay Hughes, Director of Global Technical Service for Amlan International.

In addition to gizzard damage from nutritional deficiencies reported in early research, numerous further causes have been found for gizzard erosion (Figure 1). These include genetic predisposition, management factors such as feed outages or feed form, infections agents such as adenovirus and Clostridium perfringens, or toxins such as aflatoxin or gizzerosine. It has long been known that the diet of the hen could impact the newly hatched chicks. This was reported in research published in the journal Poultry Science as early as 1942. Tepper and Bird showed that gizzard damage in day-old-chick could be reduced by the changes to the hen’s diet.

Several poultry breeder farms in Asia were experiencing gizzard erosion in day-old chicks (Picture 1). The farmers theorized that toxins in the diet they were feeding their hens could be the problem. Calibrin-Z, available in select international markets, has been shown to bind multiple biotoxins, including Aflatoxin, Cyclopiozonic Acid, and the toxins produced by clostridium perfringens – all of which can contribute to damage to the gizzard. Therefore, the producers tested Calibrin-Z to see if adding it to the breeder flock diets would solve their problem. Several farms ran experiments to find this answer.

Picture1. Damage in gizzards of day-old chicks prior to adding Calibrin-Z.


On Farm 1, 30 newly hatched chicks were collected at random in the hatchery. Calibrin-Z was fed for one month, at a dose of 1 kg/metric ton of feed.  After feeding the hens Calibrin-Z for one month, 30 one-day-old were examined at hatch. Adding Calibrin-Z to the diet decreased gizzard erosion. Calibrin-Z was fed for another month at a stepped-down rate of 500 g/metric ton of feed. When 30 chicks hatched from eggs collected at the end of that period were examined the erosion problem had continued to improve, with zero gizzard erosions that were classified as severe or moderate (Picture 2).

Picture 2. Gizzards from one-day-old chicks from breeder hens fed Calibrin-Z for fifty-one days. Erosions improved at 30 days and improved further by day 51. No gizzard showed moderate or severe erosion after 51 days of feeding.

In a second experiment, five one-day-old chicks were dissected, and all 5 chicks had severe gizzard erosion. Calibrin-Z was added to the hens’ diet at 1 kg per metric ton and fed for 30 days. Chicks hatched from eggs collected at that point were examined. There were no observed gizzard erosions in those chicks.

A third breeder farm had a similar gizzard erosion problem in day-old chicks, but this farm also observed that the chicks hatched with discolored livers. Livers had a yellow coloring, which sometimes indicates incubation stress or mycotoxicosis. Calibrin-Z was fed at 1 kg /metric ton for one month and chicks from eggs gathered at the end of that period had normal, healthy colored livers and no gizzard erosions.

In both experiments, the results show feeding Calibrin-Z to breeder hens significantly reduced gizzard erosion in day-old chicks. The health status of newly hatched chicks can be affected by the quality of the diet fed to hens. Breeders can help reduce gizzard erosion and other clinical signs of mycotoxicosis by adding Calibrin-Z to their diets. To learn more about Calibrin-Z and to start a breeder hen trial, contact your local representative.

Rapidly Adsorb Aflatoxins and Improve Poultry Performance with Calibrin-A

Calibrin-A White Broilers

Mitigating the effects of mycotoxin-contaminated feed is a goal of every poultry producer in order to keep birds healthy and reduce the negative effects of mycotoxicosis on performance. Aflatoxin is a common threat to poultry productivity, targeting and damaging the liver and causing mortality in severe cases. Subclinical cases can reduce feed intake, weight gain and efficiency, which negatively impact the cost of production and, ultimately, profits.

Aflatoxin is a polar or hydrophilic (water-loving) mycotoxin, which means it and other polar mycotoxins, like ergotamine, ergovaline and cyclopiazonic acid (CPA), are attracted to hydrophilic surfaces. Calibrin®-A (available in select international markets) is a mineral-based feed additive that rapidly adsorbs these polar mycotoxins due to its hydrophilic binding sites. If mycotoxin diagnostic tests (e.g., BioInsights) detect feed is contaminated with polar mycotoxins, Calibrin-A is an effective solution for reducing performance loss.

The Calibrin-A Difference

Calibrin-A contains one ingredient — our single-source calcium montmorillonite with opal CT lepispheres. We select our calcium montmorillonite from a specific location within our mine to ensure product consistency, quality and reliability for customers. We’re very specific about where we source our mineral, because of its natural physical and chemical properties. We also use proprietary mineral processing methods that are tailored for each product. These unique properties are what create the difference between Calibrin-A and other clay binders in the market. Calibrin-A naturally adsorbs polar mycotoxins and is designed to have a high particle count and increased access to hydrophilic binding sites. The combination of natural mineral characteristics and processing techniques creates a highly effective, fast-acting feed additive for binding polar mycotoxins.

Rapid Polar Mycotoxin Adsorption Is Key

Eliminating the fast uptake of mycotoxins into the digestive system is key to preventing the negative health and performance effects of mycotoxicosis. Mycotoxins quickly metabolize in the intestines and liver and can circulate in the blood for days or weeks. While certain toxins enter the body more quickly than others, the negative effects consistently result in decreased performance and unrealized economic potential. Calibrin-A rapidly adsorbs polar mycotoxins, reducing their bioavailability in the body and mitigating performance loss (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Calibrin-A rapidly adsorbs aflatoxin. Source: Trilogy Analytical Laboratory, USA.

Calibrin-A Improves Performance of Aflatoxin-Fed Broilers

The impact rapid aflatoxin adsorption by Calibrin-A has on bird productivity was shown in two broiler studies. In research conducted at the University of Missouri (Columbia, MO), Calibrin-A abated the detrimental effects of aflatoxin-contaminated feed on broiler health and performance. The study compared a control diet to diets containing 2 ppm of aflatoxin, with or without 0.5% Calibrin-A, fed to day-old Ross 308 chicks for 21 days.

As expected, aflatoxin in the feed caused decreased (P < 0.05) feed intake, weight gain and feed efficiency, and increased (P > 0.05) relative liver weight compared to control birds. The liver is the main target of aflatoxin if it enters the body from the intestine. Aflatoxin will cause the liver to swell and it can become “fatty” with a yellow appearance. The swollen liver and decreased weight gain causes increased relative liver weight.

Adding Calibrin‑A to the diet of birds fed aflatoxin improved weight gain and feed efficiency (Figure 2), and reduced the mycotoxin-induced increase in relative liver weight (Figure 3). Mortality rate of the control and Calibrin-A-fed birds (2.5%) was lower than the aflatoxin-fed birds (10%).

Figure 2: Calibrin-A improved weight gain and feed efficiency in broilers fed aflatoxin-contaminated feed (P < 0.05).

Figure 3: Calibrin-A reduced the mycotoxin-induced increase in relative liver weight (P > 0.05).

In a study conducted at SAMITEC (Santa Maria, Brazil), four groups of male broiler chicks (6 reps x 10 chicks each) received a diet with or without aflatoxin (2.8 ppm) and with or without 0.5% Calibrin-A (CON, AFL, CON + Calibrin-A, AFL + Calibrin-A). Calibrin-A improved (P < 0.05) the feed intake and body weight of birds fed aflatoxin (Figures 4 and 5) and reduced (P < 0.05) the average liver weight of birds fed aflatoxin (Figure 6). Additionally, adding Calibrin-A to the control diet (no aflatoxin) at 10 times the recommended dose had no negative effects on growth performance (Figures 4 and 5), indicating that Calibrin-A does not significantly interfere with nutrient use.

In order to achieve statistical significance between the challenged and non-challenged birds, a much higher concentration of aflatoxin was used in both studies than would typically be seen in poultry diets. Because birds were challenged with a high amount of aflatoxin, Calibrin-A was also included at a higher dose than typically recommended. The ratio of Calibrin-A to aflatoxin in the feed was 2500:1 (5000 ppm Calibrin-A and 2 ppm aflatoxin) for the University of Missouri study, for example, which is equivalent to the recommended inclusion rate of Calibrin-A (500 ppm) and 0.2 ppm of aflatoxin in the feed. This amount of aflatoxin is still higher than the concentration typically found in poultry feed.

Figure 4: Calibrin-A increased feed intake in birds fed aflatoxin (P < 0.05).

Figure 5: Calibrin-A increased the average weight of birds fed aflatoxin to a weight similar to control birds (P < 0.05).

Figure 6: Calibrin-A decreased the average liver weight of birds fed aflatoxin (P < 0.05).

These studies demonstrate the performance and health benefits of feeding Calibrin-A to rapidly adsorb polar mycotoxins like aflatoxin. Single-ingredient, mineral-based Calibrin-A is an effective solution to mitigating the risk of mycotoxicosis from aflatoxin-contaminated feed. To learn more about Calibrin-A or to try Calibrin-A for yourself, contact your local sales representative.



Varium® Improves Performance in Commercial Broilers Compared to an Antibiotic Growth Promoter

Varium Product Blog

Varium was developed to provide poultry producers with a product to improve production by optimizing gut health. One of the ways this can be shown is by improvements in feed conversion. Because feed costs are such a large part of the cost of poultry production, any improvement in feed conversion can have a big impact on the bottom line. Additionally, decreasing the amount of feed used to produce a kilogram of meat increases the sustainability of the operation, which is very important in today’s world.

Varium, available in select international markets, has multiple modes of action to increase its ability to improve performance. It was designed to protect against biotoxins ​in the lumen of the gastrointestinal tract and keep them from entering the body, to energize the epithelial cells that line the intestine, and help the immune system prepare to respond to antigens. ​Over the years numerous controlled experiments have shown that Varium improves feed conversion under a variety of conditions. A meta-analysis of this research was presented at the Poultry Science Association’s 2nd Latin American Scientific Conference in Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil. This summary of multiple experiments showed that feeding Varium resulted in broiler performance that was equal to that obtained when an antibiotic growth promoter was fed, this was seen both in birds that were challenged with the bacterium Clostridium perfringens to induce necrotic enteritis and in unchallenged birds. When both the antibiotic and Varium were fed together it improved the feed conversion ratio even more (Figure 1).

Graph of relative FCR to control

Figure 1. Varium improved Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) compared to unchallenged or challenged control, equal to the antibiotic growth promoter (AGP).

Since that time, information from the field has shown that feeding Varium resulted in less damage to the intestine of commercial broilers and improved villi height/crypt depth, which correlated to improved overall feed conversion (Lima, Peru).

In 2022, a large commercial study was run in southern Brazil. The study used approximately 180,000 broilers from three farms with each farm feeding one house a control diet with their standard feed containing a mycotoxin binder and enramycin, an antibiotic used as a feed additive to prevent necrotic enteritis. A second house had those ingredients removed and 0.1% Varium was added. The chicks that were supplied to the farms for evaluation were from breeders of the same age. Every week a sample weight was measured in each barn and mortalities were tabulated. Birds were harvested at 47.29 days for the Control birds and 47.17 days for the Varium fed birds (Figure 2). With a daily weight gain of 69.60 g for the Control birds and 70.62 g for the Varium fed birds.

Graph of body weight in kilograms

Figure 2. Body weight (kg) for broilers fed 0.1% Varium compared to broilers fed feed containing a mycotoxin binder and the antibiotic enramycin.

Weekly mortality, cumulative mortality, and transport mortality were all lower when birds were fed Varium compared to those fed the antibiotic (Figure 3). Overall feed conversion was 1.717 for the Control birds and 1.671 for the birds fed Varium; an advantage for birds fed Varium of 4.6 points.

Graph of cumulative mortality percentage by week

Figure 3. Mortality was lower for birds fed Varium each week and cumulatively by week. Final mortality included birds that died during transportation to harvest.

Feed conversion was 1.717 for the Control birds and 1.671 for the Varium fed birds, an advantage of 4.6 points (Figure 4). When the feed conversion was adjusted to a common ending weight of 3.25 kg adjusted feed conversion was 1.706 for the Control birds and 1.643 for the Varium fed birds, an advantage of 6.3 points for the Varium fed birds.

Graph of feed conversion

Figure 4. Feed conversion improved when broilers were fed Varium versus an antibiotic, both for overall or when adjusted to a final weight of 3.25 kg.

The 2022 Brazilian study shows that feeding Varium can improve efficiencies and performance, which are critical to increasing profits. In this case, the added annual profit for a producer processing 1 million birds per week would equate to approximately USD 6 million. Using an estimated price for the control diet of USD 375 and USD 380 for the Varium diet, the return on the cost of adding Varium vs the antibiotic control diet is approximately 4 to 1.

To learn more about improved performance with Varium and how to request a field trial, contact your local Amlan representative.

Targeting Bacterial Quorum Sensing with Mineral-Based Calibrin®-Z

Calibrin®-Z Text with bacteria in the background.

The reduction in antibiotic growth promoter use — due to changing consumer preferences and concern over antimicrobial-resistant pathogens — has required a new approach to managing enteric disease in poultry and livestock. Unlike conventional antibiotics which kill bacteria, the antivirulence approach targets bacterial virulence factors (e.g., quorum sensing) and aims at modifying pathogen behaviors to make them less harmful to the host. The likelihood for multi-drug-resistant bacteria is much less when using this method.

Bacteria Use Quorum Sensing to Communicate

Quorum sensing is one of the antivirulence targets that can be used to help manage bacterial disease. Quorum sensing is a communication system between bacterial cells that involves bacteria releasing biochemicals into the environment which accumulate until reaching a critical threshold concentration.1 When that concentration is reached, changes are triggered inside the bacteria that modify how the bacteria behave.

Quorum sensing controls many bacterial functions including bioluminescence and the release of toxins that damage host cells. Bioluminescence production was one of the first examples of quorum sensing described in bacteria. To learn more about the fascinating bioluminescent species Vibrio fischeri and quorum sensing, watch this TED-Ed video.

Quorum Quenching Disrupts Bacterial Toxin Production

Toxins produced by pathogenic bacteria (e.g., alpha-toxin and NetB toxin from Clostridium perfringens) cost animal protein producers billions of dollars each year. However, quorum-quenching products may be a practical method of reducing the negative production and health effects caused by these toxins. Quorum quenching is an approach that disrupts the quorum-sensing system of pathogenic bacteria, preventing cell-to-cell communication and the expression of quorum-sensing-controlled genes that produce toxins and other virulence factors.

Additionally, quorum-quenching products should reduce the chance of antibiotic resistance, since they are modifying bacteria behavior rather than killing them.

Calibrin®-Z has Quorum-Quenching Properties

The mineral-based biotoxin binder Calibrin-Z (available in select international markets) has demonstrated antivirulence attributes that neutralize quorum-sensing signal molecules to reduce the harmful effects of pathogenic bacteria.

A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry demonstrated that in vitro, Calibrin-Z separated out quorum-sensing molecules by adsorption or catalytically broke them down into small fragments. By reducing the concentration of quorum-sensing biochemicals, Calibrin-Z potentially disrupts the ability of pathogenic bacteria to produce toxins, since this function is controlled through quorum sensing.

When incubated with Vibrio harveyi, a bacterium that exhibits bioluminescence controlled via quorum signaling, Calibrin-Z reduced bacterial luminescence by 55% (from the area under the curve; Figure 1). The bacterial numbers were not affected (Figure 2), indicating the bioluminescence reduction was achieved through quorum quenching — interfering with quorum sensing — and not by killing bacteria.


Graph showing Luminescence Over Time of Various Doses.
Figure 1: Bacterial luminescence from a Vibrio harveyi culture treated with different concentrations of Calibrin-Z. Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) was used as a non-luminescent negative control. At 10 mg/mL, Calibrin-Z reduced bacterial luminescence by 55% (area under the curve).


Graph showing Bacteria Count Over Time of Various Doses.
Figure 2: Treatment with different concentrations of Calibrin-Z did not affect the growth of Vibrio harveyi.


Quenching quorum-sensing molecules is just one of the techniques that can be employed to control pathogens using the antivirulence approach. This is an exciting field that offers animal protein producers effective alternatives to antibiotics for controlling pathogens and their toxins. Visit the Calibrin-Z page to learn more about its biotoxin-binding properties.



  1. Naik SP, Scholin J, Ching S, Chi F, Herpfer M. Quorum Sensing Disruption in Vibrio harveyi Bacteria by Clay Materials. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2018; 66:40-44.

Research Shows NeoPrime® Benefits Swine at Multiple Life Stages

NeoPrime® logo with sow and piglets background.

Weaning is a stressful time for piglets and can have negative impacts on their intestinal environment, overall health and production performance. Multiple studies have shown that improving intestinal health and function with NeoPrime® can help reduce the negative fallback effects of weaning. But what about other times in the pig’s life? Can improving the intestinal health of sows, gilts or pre-weaned piglets with NeoPrime supplementation improve their performance and health?

Here are three case studies that demonstrate the positive effects NeoPrime can have on the fecal microbiota, nursery swine performance, piglet mortality as well as sow and gilt performance and health. These factors help producers drive profits naturally by increasing potential revenue and decreasing the cost of production.

Weaning and NeoPrime Change the Fecal Microbiota

Researchers at a university in Mexico investigated the effects of NeoPrime on select fecal microbial populations when NeoPrime was supplemented both pre- and post-weaning (0 to 56 days-of-age). Sixteen litters of newborn piglets with similar body weight were assigned to either NeoPrime or control treatment groups. Piglets in the NeoPrime group (eight litters) were given two oral doses of NeoPrime (300 mg) in water, the first immediately after birth and the second two hours after consuming colostrum. The same piglets were offered NeoPrime-supplemented creep feed (0.15% w/w) from day 7 until weaning on day 21. The eight control litters received isovolumic sham (water) doses with identical scheduling as the NeoPrime group and were offered non-supplemented creep feed. Previous data showed NeoPrime improved growth performance and decreased diarrhea when fed at weaning. This prompted researchers to administer NeoPrime at birth, using oral doses to ensure that all piglets received a similar initial dose, an off-label use of the product.

At weaning, 100 piglets were distributed to 10 pens/treatment and 5 pigs/pen. Piglets remained in their assigned treatment groups from day 0 to 56. Fecal samples were collected at 21, 35 and 56 days of age to assess fecal populations of Escherichia coli, Lactobacillus spp., and Clostridium perfringens.

Weaning had an overall effect on the fecal microbiota (regardless of treatment), with the abundance of E. coli and Lactobacillus spp. post-weaning (sampled d 35 and d 56) higher (P < 0.05) than during the pre-weaning phase (sampled day 21). Conversely, C. perfringens abundance post-weaning was lower (P <0.05) than the pre-weaning phase (Figure 1).

There was an interactive effect between treatment and growth phase on E. coli and Lactobacillus spp. abundance. NeoPrime significantly reduced the abundance of E. coli compared to the control pre-weaning on day 21 (P < 0.05) and increased (P < 0.05) the Lactobacillus spp. population on day 56 compared to the control (Figure 2). Piglets supplemented with NeoPrime also showed an improvement in weight gain on days 35 and 56 (P = 0.09).

In this study, weaning had a striking effect on the fecal bacterial populations measured. NeoPrime supplementation decreased the negative effects of weaning on performance, which may be partially due to a beneficial modulatory effect on the gut microbiota that promoted beneficial bacteria.

Microbiota effect of each phase chart.
Figure 1: Weaning increased fecal E. coli and Lactobacillus spp. abundance and reduced C. perfringens abundance. Different letters within bacteria species denotes P < 0.05.


E. Coli Interaction Treatment X growth phase chart.
Figure 2: NeoPrime reduced the E. coli population on day 21 and increased Lactobacillus spp. on day 56. Different letters within bacteria species denotes P < 0.05.


NeoPrime Improved Commercial Nursery Swine Performance

A commercial swine operation in Mexico compared the benefits of supplementing nursery pigs with NeoPrime or a competitor product. From 27 to 78 days of age, 2,364 nursery pigs, with an average initial body weight of 8.2 kg, were fed diets supplemented with NeoPrime (1.5 kg/MT) or a competitor product intended to decrease unwanted gut bacteria. Feeding NeoPrime increased final body weight by 5.2 kg and reduced mortality by 1.5% (Figure 3). The cost per kg produced was also improved by using NeoPrime instead of the competitor product (Mex$12.36 vs. $14.87).

NeoPrime® increased body weight and reduced mortality chart.
Figure 3: NeoPrime increased body weight and reduced mortality in commercial nursery pigs.


Benefits of Supplementing Gestation and Farrowing Diets with NeoPrime

A commercial swine farm in Querétaro, Mexico, assessed the benefits of adding NeoPrime to sow gestation and lactation diets (2,400 sows). The farm was experiencing losses from influenza, PRRS and enterotoxigenic E. coli at the time of the study. NeoPrime was supplemented at a rate of 1.5 kg/MT (no other mycotoxin binders or yeast were added) and the results compared to the prior month.

NeoPrime supplemented at the end of pregnancy increased the number of replacement gilts that farrowed (98 vs. 91/110 gilts) which resulted in a substantial increase in potential revenue (Table 1). NeoPrime supplementation from farrowing to weaning also increased the number of sows weaned in good body condition by 6% and reduced sow mortality by 1.31% (Figure 4). Additionally, in sows supplemented with NeoPrime, piglet mortality decreased by 1% and weaning weight increased by 1.05 kg (Figure 5). Lower mortality reduced the cost per piglet by Mex$43.76 (Mex$437.43 vs. 481.19) which amounted to an annual value of approximately Mex$214,000, when accounting for the piglet number increase and the difference in piglet cost.

In this study, NeoPrime improved sow body condition and reduced mortality, which can lead to fewer non-productive sow days, an improved ovulation rate and less cross-fostering in farrowing. NeoPrime also increased potential revenue by increasing the number of gilts retained and reducing piglet mortality, lowering the cost of production per piglet.


Table 1: NeoPrime increased gilt retention by seven gilts, leading to an increase in potential revenue.

NeoPrime increased gilt retention and potential revenue chart.


NeoPrime® improved sow body condition and reduced mortality chart.
Figure 4: NeoPrime improved sow body condition and reduced mortality.


NeoPrime® reduced piglet mortality and improved body weight chart.
Figure 5: Supplementing sows with NeoPrime, reduced piglet mortality and increased piglet weaning weight.


In these case studies, NeoPrime was successful in driving profits naturally for swine producers by increasing revenue potential through reduced mortality, improved performance and reduced cost of production. NeoPrime achieves these effects by reducing the level of pathogenic challenge in the intestine, energizing intestinal epithelial cells and safely stimulating intestinal immunity. To experience the benefits of NeoPrime with your own trial, contact your local Amlan representative.