Dairy Crest in prebiotic feed trial alliance with DuPont

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A prebiotic used in infant formula could have benefits for animal gut health, says a UK group behind the functional ingredient.

Dairy Crest said has been doing some work with a number of universities over the last two or three years looking at the impact of feeding its galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS) product to chickens and pigs.  

And, today, it announced a research alliance with Danisco Animal Nutrition, part of DuPont. 

It said Danisco Animal Nutrition will support it in terms of further product development and trials. That research platform, set to get underway in January, is to ascertain the efficacy of Dairy Crest’s prebiotic for use in poultry and swine. 

“The trial results will influence further discussions on a potential arrangement for the distribution and sale of GOS in animal feed applications by DuPont,” confirmed the group. 

With a shift away from the use of antibiotics, probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics have attracted a great deal of attention as potential additives to improve livestock intestinal health and control food-borne pathogens.

Weight gain, FCR impact 

At its interim results announcement in November, Dairy Crest reported positive outcomes from using the prebiotic in chicken diets during academic research trials: 

“Initial academic trials have shown there are several benefits to feeding chickens GOS. Chickens receiving GOS exhibited improvements of over 10% in both weight gain and feed conversion rates, when compared to chickens not fed GOS. 

“We also identified that chickens fed GOS had increased levels of beneficial bacteria and developed a greater surface area in the birds' gut which enables better absorption of nutrients. Furthermore, there are some encouraging signs of the positive benefit that GOS might be able to bring in offsetting the negative impact of pathogens, e.g. campylobacter, on bird development. This includes improved bird performance and potentially reduced infection rates.” 

The UK group said then it was planning a move from those highly-controlled academic trials to commercial studies to see whether these benefits can be sustained in the field. 

“We are increasing our investment by £2m this year to support this program,” it added. 

Diary Crest has also registered Nutrabiotic as the brand name for its GOS product targeted at the animal nutrition sector. 

Broiler feed trial   

Italian researchers aimed at finding a prebiotic based synbiotic mixture capable of modulating the gut microbiota of broiler chickens to obtain an increase of beneficial bacteria and a competitive reduction of C. jejuni. They wrote about their findings in the International Journal of Food Microbiology 

The authors explained they selected the prebiotic compound following an in vivo trial with broilers: they said they separately administered a fructooligosaccharide and a galactooligosaccharide in a mix with normal feed at a concentration of 0.5% and 3%, respectively. Quantitative PCR on DNA extracted from fecal samples revealed a significant increase of Bifidobacterium spp. in broilers treated with the galactooligosaccharide, coupled to a decrease of Campylobacter spp, they reported.

They subsequently combined the galactooligosaccharide with a probiotic Bifidobacterium, which possessed in vitro antimicrobial activity against C. jejuni

The researchers said this strain was microencapsulated in a lipid matrix to ensure viability in the feed and resistance to stomach transit.

Finally, the synbiotic product was administered to broiler chickens for 14 days, mixed in with a standard feed. The authors said the results indicated the synbiotic product “significantly” reduced C. jejuni concentration in poultry feces.

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