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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.

Consumer demand driving natural feed solutions

Poultry barn with Amlan logo text graphic.

Source: Amie Simpson, Brownfield Ag NewsJanuary 28, 2022

“Increasing regulation and strong consumer demand are creating a growing market for natural animal protein production solutions,” commented Dr. Wade Robey, our vice president of marketing and product development, in a recent interview with Amie Simpson of Brownfield Ag News. Wade also discussed Amlan’s introduction of natural mineral-based food additives to the US market and the growth opportunities this presents for Amlan in 2022. Read more here.

Managing Gut Health for Antibiotic-Free Chicken

Fred Kao photo with chicken barn background graphic.

Source: Red River Farm Network, January 28, 2022

An increasing market sector around the world. That’s the prediction for the no-antibiotic-ever market provided by Fred Kao, Vice President of Global Sales for Amlan, during his recent interview with Red River Farm Network. Fred also discussed the competitiveness of Amlan’s mineral as a stand-alone product. Read the full story here.

ABF Poultry Production Best Practice Series: Water Quality

Chicken poultry antibiotic free steps Amlan International

In poultry production, water is considered the most important nutrient by far, yet water quality is often overlooked. Broilers typically consume at least 1.5 pounds more water than they eat in feed, so it’s important to have water that is low in microbial contamination with acceptable mineral levels. Monitoring water quality is particularly important in antibiotic-free (ABF) production systems to keep birds as healthy and profitable as possible. Here, we take a closer look at what our industry experts consider water quality best practices for ABF poultry producers, as part of our series on strategies for producing antibiotic-free poultry.

Testing Water Quality

Samples should be collected regularly to assess water quality, as the status can often change. Our industry experts recommend testing water at least annually to determine if is safe for birds to drink and if there are any issues that need correcting. Water quality should be assessed regardless of the source (i.e., municipal, well, pond), as even city water could have issues that can affect bird performance. Both the microbial contamination (e.g., E. coli) and mineral content (e.g., iron and sodium) of the water sample should be tested.

Microbial Contamination

Water can be a vector for bacteria and other pathogens, leading to significant health issues and production losses. A poultry house water line provides ideal growing conditions for pathogens as the water is often nutrient rich and in a warm environment. The risk of microbial contamination can also increase if flood water enters ponds or wells. Wild geese and ducks could also be a source of pathogens, if the water supply is from surface water (a pond).

Microbial contamination can lead to the formation of biofilm (slime) on the surface. Biofilm is an aggregate of microorganisms connected by an extracellular matrix that is attached to a surface (e.g., pipes and storage containers). As well as a health issue, biofilm can also block nipples and reduce water flow.

Mineral Composition

Excessive mineral content, particularly sodium and iron, can be an issue with some water sources. Too much sodium can cause flushing in the birds and iron can form deposits and clog the water lines. Hardness of the water (calcium and magnesium concentration) can also cause scale to build up in the lines and cause issues such as leaking nipples. Water leaking onto the litter can create further problems such as increased ammonia production.

If minerals levels are high, nutritionists may be able to formulate for mineral imbalances. However, this is usually more expensive than treating the water, particularly for large production companies where producing a specialty diet for a single location is not economically feasible. Sand filters could be used to remove some of the iron, however reverse osmosis or a larger filtration system may be needed for removing other minerals.

Cleaning Water Lines

Water lines should be flushed regularly, particularly after using water-based supplements. The lines should also be thoroughly cleaned between flocks to remove biofilm and scale buildup. Typically, hydrogen peroxide or chlorine-based products are used. The selected products should be appropriate for the application and the manufacturer’s directions followed to ensure adequate cleaning and to prevent damage to the water lines. After cleaning, the lines should be flushed well. Water storage tanks should also be cleaned regularly to prevent mold and other pathogens growing in them.

Water Consumption

Water consumption should be monitored carefully as the amount of water consumed directly affects weight gain and feed conversion. If water intake decreases, feed intake also decreases, and productivity declines.  A decrease in water consumption may indicate an issue with water quality.

Other Water Usage

Availability of good quality water is also important for non-drinking purposes, such as cool cells used for evaporative cooling. The water lines supplying the cooling cells need to be clear and flow fully to allow the cells to work correctly. Evaporative cooling is addressed further in our next post on best practices for ventilation in ABF poultry houses.

Protect Birds From Pathogens and Biotoxins

To defend against waterborne pathogens, birds need a healthy intestinal environment that can mount an effective immune response and prevent pathogens and their biotoxins entering the circulatory system, causing disease. As well as health issues, pathogens can also cause morphological changes to the intestinal lining, decreasing the surface area available for nutrient absorption. Fortunately, natural alternatives to AGP are available to support a competent immune system, maintain intestinal integrity and promote performance.

Using high-quality water in poultry production systems is essential to keep equipment running smoothly and maintain bird health and performance. Amlan is dedicated to developing next-generation technology to help poultry producers keep birds healthy and maintain productivity for life. Download a helpful, printable guide that summarizes the above best practices here and keep checking our Education Center for other posts on our ABF production best practices series.

Natural Growth Promoter for Poultry Demonstrates 10:1 ROI, Better than Antibiotics Alone

Featured News Poultry Image

CHICAGO, IL—A recent study found that Varium™, the natural growth promoter for poultry from Amlan International, performed better than antibiotics alone, delivering significant reductions in mortality, and improvements in feed conversion and intestinal health, for a 10:1 return on investment.

“As the reduction or elimination of antibiotics in broiler production continues to expand worldwide, Varium is proving to be an effective way to enhance the growth-promoting abilities of antibiotics, or, when used in antibiotic-free production, to achieve bird performance equivalent to flocks receiving sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics,” said Dr. Ron Cravens, President of Amlan International, a Nevada Corporation.

“We’re very pleased our customers’ broilers receiving Varium, experienced improved villi height and a reduction in crypt depth indicating improved intestinal integrity,” said Cravens. “It’s quite notable that an improved European Efficiency Index (EEI) score was also seen, increasing from 350 to 400 points.”

Compared to the control diet that included antibiotics, feeding Varium decreased mortality by 40%, from 6.93% to 4.18%, with improvements seen throughout the growout period, not just in young birds. Feed conversion improved 15 points, from 1.64 to 1.49, with the majority of the gains seen after day 7 and a greater response seen in female broilers.

Varium is a registered product in a variety of countries, including China and Mexico. For a full list of registered countries and a complete study of the results and more information on Varium, please visit Varium is sold outside the U.S.


Reagan Culbertson
(312) 706-3256


Oil-Dri Corporation of America (NYSE: ODC), a Delaware corporation and doing business as “Amlan International,” has grown its product offering across the intestinal health and AGP-alternative market, driven largely by the research conducted in its laboratory campus in Vernon Hills, IL. In 2013, the company’s global reach expanded with the establishment of its China subsidiary in Shenzhen. Further information on Amlan International is available at