An organic acid feed supplement is now available to broiler producers, offering an average lift in growth rate of 1.7%, which equates to a return on investment of 3.7.

DSM’s Christophe Paulus told the DSM Technical Seminar held earlier this week near Coverntry that feed was the biggest cost of broiler production, accounting for up to 70% of total production costs. But efficient feed use could only be achieved when birds had optimal gut health.

European flocks face extra gut challenges with diets based on wheat, which is less digestible than maize, thereby leading to health problems like necrotic enteritis.

To address this, DSM has launched a new product, Crina Poultry Plus. The company has taken the existing Crina feed supplement containing a mix of essential oils and incorporated a new element – benzoic acid.

“Organic acids have successfully featured in pig rations for some time, but this is the first for poultry.”

Dr Paulus said the essential oils and benzioc acid had a complementary mode of action, effectivly moderating the proliferation of pathogenic bacteria in the bird’s gut. Tests showed a reduction in clostridia perfringens and E coli without affecting beneficials like lactobacillus.

It had three modes of action, he said. First, some essential oils such as piperine (pepper extract) stimulated the secretion of digestive enzymes to enhance digestion.

Second, other essential oils, such as thymol attacked the cell walls of specific pathogenic bacteria, making it easier for the benzoic acid to enter them. Lastly, the benzoic acid entered certain bacteria and disrupted cell function, said Dr Paulus.

It had consistently proved effective in broiler trials across five different countries, including France, The Netherlands and Belgium.

Across all the trials, the average improvement in weight gain was 1.7% with a 0.9% reduction in feed conversion. “This resulted in a mean financial benefit of €29/1000 birds (£26) or a return on investment of £3.7 for every £1,” he said.