My name is Eric Senteu a resident of Kiserian, Kajiado County. I am a regular reader of your column and I like how you simplify animal health information. I am a dairy farmer who is keen on cutting the cost of production especially the cost of feeds. I recently attended the World Food Day in Oloitoktok and got an opportunity to be trained by some animal feeds manufacturers that were selling what they called livestock feed additives. They had several classes of them and they said that these can help reduce production cost and increase my profits.

Is this true? Can I get these additives from my normal agrovets and how exactly do they work? Thanks so much

Eric Senteu, Kajiado County.

Yes Feed Additives are Advantageous

Thanks for your question Eric and most importantly for reading the Smart Harvest where we share agricultural information for better production and subsequently food and nutrition security. To your question first. Yes some or specific feed additives can increase productivity, reproduction and improve the health of an animal. Yes, feed additives improve feed utilization and therefore low cost of production which increases your profit margins.

What are Feed Additives?

Feed additives represent various classes of non-nutritive chemical compounds or organisms or nutritive compounds that have a physiological benefit when ingested by an animal. They are added to feeds in small quantities but have a great benefit. Feed additives will promote ingestion (appetite), feed absorption after digestion, utilization of nutrients, growth, health and subsequently production. They boost physiological processes, such as immunity, stress resistance, production and reproduction.

Classes of feed additives

Feed additives can be grouped into broad classes as medicated and non-medicated feed additives or as nutritive and none-nutritive feed additives. Medicated additives include anti-coccidials, antiparasitics and antibiotics. Medicated Feed Additives use is currently discouraged because of the antimicrobial resistance phenomena as their uses has been shown to contribute to development of resistance to antimicorbials.

Ionophores are a group of feed additive that target ruminal bacterial and improve feed efficiency by up to 10%. They also reduce bloat and acidosis in ruminants.

Feed Attractants - They enhance the ingestion of feeds.  They include flavoring agents and pigmentations. They improve palatability hence intake of feeds.

Probiotics are are cultures of micro-organisms (yeast and bacteria species that are fed to livestock and they act by altering digestive tract micro-organisms. Probiotics favor growth of beneficial micro-organisms but inhibit the growth of unwanted microbes. Ionophores and probiotics therefore stimulate the growth of microorganisms which favors nutrient synthesis, suppress organisms which compete for critical nutrients and inhibit toxin producing bacteria.

Enzymes used as feed additives increase the digestion of fiber, starch and proteins.

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