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Probiotic feed additives for pigs improve the environment and animal welfare

Press release   •   Dec 14, 2010 12:40 UTC

Chr. Hansen’s researchers set out to develop healthy bacteria that can produce essential amino acids in the pig’s intestines. This will reduce the loss of nitrogen to the environment and create healthier pigs

An exciting new Chr. Hansen Animal Health project has just received EUR 1 million in public research funds by the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation.

The project, which will run over the next 3 years, is led by the global bioscience company Chr. Hansen in cooperation with the University of Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest university. The project aims at developing special Bacillus subtilis strains to reduce the protein content in pigs’ feed. As protein contains substantial amounts of nitrogen this will help reduce the loss of nitrogen to the environment by more than 10% on an annual basis – corresponding to the loss of nitrogen caused by two million slaughter pigs.

At the same time the healthy added bacteria have a stabilizing effect on the intestinal flora of the animals, which strengthens their immune system and makes them more resistant to disease. For instance it has been documented that probiotic feed additives can reduce the mortality rate among piglets, so that in Denmark alone one million more piglets would survive each year.

Solving several problems

"Today pigs’ feed contains large amounts of protein to ensure that the pigs get the essential amino acids. However high protein content in the feed also involves loss of nitrogen as the pigs cannot utilize all the nitrogen supplied to them. This may result in nitrogen wash out to lakes and streams with subsequent negative effects on animals and groundwater due to oxygen depletion. Moreover high protein content in the feed is likely to increase the risk of diarrhoea and thus a higher consumption of antibiotics,” explains Benedicte Flambard, Director Innovation, Human & Animal Health, Chr. Hansen.

”Modern swine production is facing a number of challenges such as optimal feed provision, environmental impact and consumption of antibiotics. Both society as a whole, the individual farmer and consumer have an interest in solving these challenges, as both the environment, economy and the pork quality are affected. The new project focuses on these exact issues,” Flambard adds.

Healthy bacteria at a reasonable price

Not only animals and the environment will benefit from the new research project. The same goes for the swine producers.

”Already today there are a number of synthetic amino acids on the market but some of these are simply too expensive to use in pigs’ feed. Our new Bacillus strains will be offered at a reasonable price - in fact the swine producer will be able to reduce the feed price by as much as 4%, as the feed ration can be composed differently,” says Christoffer Lorenzen, Marketing Director, Animal Health & Nutrition, Chr. Hansen.

Complete project package from development to final product

The project includes a full package from development and characterization of Bacillus strains, proof of concept, first in simple in vitro systems followed by tests and model descriptions in the pig carried out by the University of Aarhus, to upscaling of the strain for production, product launch and business development.

Upon the completion of the project in 2013 the product will be ready for marketing in the USA and for the registration process in Europe.

Chr. Hansen is a global bioscience company that develops natural ingredient solutions for the food, nutritional, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. The products include cultures, enzymes, probiotics and natural colors, and all solutions are based on strong research and development competencies coupled with significant technology investments. Revenue in the 2013/14 financial year was EUR 756 million. The company holds a leading market position in all its divisions: Cultures & Enzymes, Health & Nutrition and Natural Colors. It has more than 2,500 dedicated employees in over 30 countries and main production facilities in Denmark, France, USA and Germany. Chr. Hansen was founded in 1874 and is listed on NASDAQ OMX Copenhagen.

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