Canada's Innovative Poultry Feed Products Help Solve Industry Issues

Canadian companies have recently been active in producing exciting new products for the poultry industry, including insect feed ingredients approved for use in the US and Canada. Treena Hein reports on these developments and the market potential for the new products.
calendar icon 1 November 2016
clock icon 6 minute read

Insects begin to take off as protein source in poultry feed

A high-protein insect feed ingredient produced by Enterra Feed Corporation of Langley, British Columbia has recently received Canadian and US regulatory approval for use in broiler feed and pet food, the first ingredient of its kind to do so.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have approved what is known as ‘Whole Dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae’ (BSF), the fast-growing, protein-rich larvae of this harmless North American fly species.

In the EU (and the UK, until it exits the EU), processed insect protein is currently not eligible to include in the feed of food-producing animals, but can be fed to pets and animals raised for fur harvest. The European Commission is currently reflecting on whether to allow processed insect protein in aquaculture feed.

Enterra’s Marketing and Operations Manager says BSF consume food waste that would otherwise go to the landfill or to composting or waste-to-energy operations where the food nutrient value of the food waste is lost.

Victoria Leung also notes that BSF will consume a wide range of waste food, from fruits, vegetables and stale bread to grains and grocery store materials. The adult flies are grown in cages under controlled environmental conditions, with the mature larvae either harvested or allowed to grow into flies to produce the next generation.

Enterra is aiming to have CFIA and FDA approval for BSF in other animal feeds by mid-2017, including chicken layers, other types of poultry such as turkeys and ducks, as well as trout and salmon. The firm is also working to develop new products from dried larvae such as oil and high-protein meal.

The BSF is currently being sold to Canadian and US customers in the poultry and pet food sectors and Enterra plans to focus on only those markets for the foreseeable future. However, Ms Leung notes that they do plan to eventually expand “far beyond” their Langley facility, noting that “anywhere there is an abundance of food waste, it is possible to build a commercial insect-rearing facility to upcycle the waste nutrients into sustainable feed ingredients.”

Scratch and Peck Feeds in Bellingham, Washington began feeding BSF to its birds in April 2015, shortly after it became available on the US market as a poultry treat. Now that the product has received FDA feed ingredient approval, Scratch and Peck plans to fully integrate BSF into its feeds in place of fishmeal.

Because it’s a natural ingredient, we asked Enterra if inclusion of BSF in chicken feed will help with bird gut health, for example perhaps reducing incidence of coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis. Leung responded by noting that insects contain chitin as part of their exoskeleton structure. “Researchers have proposed that inclusion of chitin or chitosan in poultry diets may improve poultry health; however, more research is needed.”

New feed additives to aid replacement of antimicrobial drugs

Ontario-based AbCelex Technologies has developed a line of non-antibiotic, non-hormonal products proven to eliminate or significantly reduce pathogens in the chicken gut such as Campylobacter and Salmonella.

“Since these innovative products are based on natural antibodies, there is no risk to human health and no possibility of antibiotic resistance,” says AbCelex President and CEO Saeid Babaei.

“The products will be delivered as a feed additive. Chickens simply ingest the antibody and it selectively neutralises the bacteria. Our results in live chicks show 95 per cent inhibition of the Campylobacter pathogen, far higher than any other pre-harvest method used in industry and what expected by regulators.”

The very small antibodies, also called single-domain antibodies or nanobodies, employed by AbCelex occur naturally only in the blood of cameloids (camels, llamas and alpacas) and sharks. They were discovered in the early 1990s, Mr Babaei explained, when Belgian scientists were studying the blood of cameloids and noticed these unique antibodies.

He notes their small size allows them to be orally bioavailable, where conventional antibody drugs must be injected in order to enter the bloodstream. The nanobodies’ small size and flexibility in terms of molecular engineering also allows for them to be cost-effectively mass produced.

In the past several years, AbCelex has increased the resistance of its lead products to the acidic conditions of the animal digestive tract and also significantly improved their resistance to heat (required in poultry feed preparation).

In the past year, the AbCelex team has attained production of their nanobodies in various micro-organism systems such as yeast. In July 2016, AbCelex received an investment of $3.4 million through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s ‘AgriInnovation Program’ to support further product development. Mr Babaei says this will be conducted in collaboration with Canadian and international academic institutions, companies and contract research groups.

AbCelex is now moving forward with young adult field studies to be followed by large broiler trials to support regulatory submissions, with a goal of market launch in late 2018 or early 2019. “Being the first product of its kind, we will work with various regulatory agencies in getting our products approved,” Mr Babaei notes.

“Our commercialisation strategy is to directly market to large poultry producers/processors as well as co-marketing opportunities with larger animal health companies… We have already partnered with one of Ireland’s largest poultry producer/processors, Carton Group, which may be involved with commercial farm studies and product registration in Europe.”

Carton Group Managing Director Vincent Carton says like most concerned chicken processors, he wants to solve the problem of Campylobacter.

“After 13 years of searching and trying almost anything I have enormous respect for this very dangerous bacteria,” he notes, adding that he is: “Dubious about the claims of many new drugs that claim to tackle Campylobacter, having been proven wrong so many times in the past. I thought the approach taken by Abcelex was very different and was deserving of early stage support… By working with nature, I believe we will find the solution to this problem.”

New Canadian bedding to be presented in Holland before year’s end

A virgin corrugated cardboard bedding made in Ontario will be presented in Holland before the end of 2016.

HOOF-PRINT is one of five innovative bedding products made by ABC (Animal Bedding Company) in Woodstock, Ontario.

Company president Jillian Jasper says that with its high absorption capacity, HOOF-PRINT outperforms straw, shavings, drywall, peat moss and everything else on the market in terms of animal health outcomes.

The product, which has been on the Canadian market several years, is currently undergoing trials in Ontario involving some of Canada’s largest chicken and turkey companies. The tests involve checking for respiratory illnesses, presence of Campylobacter and foot pad or leg health issues.

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