VIDEO: Poultry diets can be more sustainable, remain profitable

Danisco’s Animal Nutrition & Health’s Dr. Leon Marchal looks at how, using alternative ingredients, poultry diets can be more sustainable without compromising profitability.

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Watt Poultry Chat Leon Marchal

Environmental concerns around land use and land use change, as well as high CO2 emissions linked to long-distance transport of soybean meal, are driving interest in the use of sustainable alternative ingredients in poultry diets. 


There is, already, a small, but growing, segment for soy-free diets in Northwest Europe. Although partial replacement with ingredients such as rapeseed and sunflower seed meal has had some success, producers have been unable to adopt soy-free feed formulations due to reduced bird performance and significant cost increases.

 A concept study presented at PSA 2022 demonstrated encouraging findings. These preliminary results are the first to suggest that soybean meal could be completely replaced without significantly compromising poultry performance. 

Mark Clements, editor, Poultry International: Hello and welcome to Poultry Chat, my name is Mark Clements. I'm the editor of Poultry International, and, today, I'm talking to Dr. Leon Marchal, director of innovation at Danisco Animal Nutrition & Health, part of IFF, about the sustainability of poultry diets and remaining profitable.

Danisco Animal Nutrition & Health, part of IFF, is an industry leader in nutritional health solutions with a comprehensive portfolio of feed enzymes, betaine, phytogenics and probiotics. 

So welcome Leon and thank you for joining us today.

Dr. Leon Marchal, director of innovation at Danisco and Animal Nutrition and Health: You're welcome. 

Clements: Perhaps we could start with you telling us about the disadvantages of alternative ingredients.

Marchal: Alternative ingredients, of course, are typically more economic, and they also come with a lower carbon footprint, due to less transport, but of course, there are also some disadvantages. They generally have a low protein digestibility, higher phytate, and especially higher fiber levels. Of course, it should be said that most of these disadvantages can be overcome with sufficient high phytase and other enzyme dosages. 

Clements: Could you give us a brief overview of the proof of concept study that was presented at the Poultry Science Association meeting earlier this year.

Marchal: At the PSA meeting, in San Antonio in Texas, this year, we presented the first proof of concept of total soy-free diets in male broilers on day one. Then the reduced protein diets really performed better, and our best treatment was economically equivalent already to the soy diet and very close to breeders’ objectives. And we looked at several additive combinations and we found that the right mix of highly effective phytase, xylanase and beta-glucanase and protease, together with a three-strain probiotic, was really the best strategy to mitigate the negative effects of the alternative ingredients and to maintain performance.

Clements: So given the nutritional profile, and costs of alternative ingredients are variable, depending on location, and other circumstances, how does research like this add customer value.

Marchal: Almost all of our customers benefit economically and sustainability-wise if they can include a higher level of alternative ingredients in their broiler diets while, of course, maintaining performance. In using a combination of effective enzymes and a probiotic, it really helps to combat the potential negative effects caused by the lower quality and higher variability of these types of ingredients. So going to a diet with 100 percent alternative ingredients, so soy-free from day one, really puts this to the extreme, and it’s a very good way to show what is possible. So we hope to inspire and encourage people pushing nutritional boundaries together with the right additive strategy.

Clements: Do you think that demand for additives will fall once we exit the current crisis?

Marchal: The current crisis really forces people to look very critically at their diets, so many are encouraged to include higher levels of alternative ingredients, to look at improving nutrient digestibility to reduce, or eliminate, inorganic phosphates from the diets. And enzymes can play a key role in improving the digestibility and coming towards more economic diets. Of course, an additional plus is that the nitrogen and phosphorus emissions are reduced which helps our sector to be more sustainable. So even when raw material prices go back to more normal levels, I think a lot of these savings will remain and will be part of the new baseline.

Clements: Leon, thank you so much for joining us today, it's been fascinating talking to you. 

 For more information on Danisco Animal Nutrition & Health visit: 

 Thank you, goodbye.

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