Biotech company Nutraferma employs 2 strains of bacteria to create a probiotic soy protein ingredient that fosters a favourable balance of beneficial microbes in young pigs’ guts. The solid-state fermentation process with lactic acid bacteria reduces most of the anti-nutritional factors from soybean meal and breaks down long-chain peptides for better absorption at small intestine by young pigs.
Soybean meal is the most common source of protein in livestock diets, but its use in young pigs is hindered by anti-nutritional factors such as oligosaccharides and trypsin inhibitor, which block intestinal absorption of many nutrients otherwise present in feed.
Additionally, pigs are prone to gastrointestinal (GI) infections because their stomachs do not produce as much hydrochloric acid as adults do. This high pH environment can give rise to an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria and hinder the population of beneficial bacteria necessary for healthy digestion. It also leads to more undigested feed entering the lower gastrointestinal tract.
The perfect probiotic for pigs. Photo: Jan Sibon
Addressing microbial imbalances
Together, the microbial imbalance and poor breakdown of feed result in poor absorption of nutrients by the young animals. To address these issues, Nutraferma has developed NF8, a fermented soy protein ingredient with live active cultures; beneficial lactic acid content; and better digestibility. It performs equally to commonly used animal-based proteins.
Proprietary strains of Bacillus subtilis and Pediococcus pentosaceus transform soybean meal into a more digestible, effective protein by:
- Producing lactic acid so nutrients in feed are more bioavailable
- Helping create a favourable balance of microbes in young animals’ guts and the feed is more resistant to pathogens
- Reducing anti-nutritional factors. Trypsin inhibitors are less active and olgiosaccharides drop to near non-detectable levels
- Increasing soluble protein to levels as high as 19.5%, compared to the 10-12% found in unfermented soybean meal.
Probiotic soy digestive health
In terms of digestibility and protein content, the product is on par with animal-sourced proteins such as fishmeal, but with the added advantage of being probiotic. To create, NF8, Nutraferma inoculates soybean meal with Bacillus subtilis and Pediococcus pentosaceus and ferments it under controlled levels of moisture, pH, temperature, and oxygen. This process, called microaerobic solid-state (MASS) fermentation, physical and enzymatic processes that make the soybean meal more nutritious and digestible.
The bacteria continue to provide benefits even after the transformation into NF8 is complete. Unlike many other lactic acid-producing bacteria used in animal feeds, the proprietary heat tolerant Pediococcus pentosaceus strain can survive the high temperatures associated with pelleting. In a laboratory test, 98% of Pediococcus pentosaceus bacteria survives pelleting. This means the bacteria can enter the animal’s digestive system to improve microbial balance.
Lactic acid for microbial balance and nutrient absorption
Another advantage of the proprietary Pediococcus pentosaceus strain is that it produces lactic acid. This lowers the pH of the final product, lessening the amount of acidifier needed in the pelleted feed. Lactic acid can also help young animals access nutrients in their feed by lowering in the pH in the GI tract.
This helps prevent undesirable bacteria from colonising the GI tract and encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria. Thus, NF8 promotes a healthy microbial balance in 2 ways:
- By adding live, active probiotic bacteria directly to the diet
- By creating an environment in the gut that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Creating favourable balance of microbes can help young animals get more nutrients out of their diet, increasing health and growth.
Research-proven alternative protein source
A 47-day study conducted by a major swine integrator compared NF8 to other soy-based protein ingredients in the diets of weanling pigs. The objective of the experiment was to determine the effects of these ingredients on growth performance and pig health status.
NF8 was compared to 2 enzymatically treated soy (ETS) products, ETS 1 and ETS 2, as well as a positive control containing fishmeal and ETS 2 + yeast cells. The diets were fed in 4 phases with diets included on a lysine basis with synthetic amino acids utilised to balance the diets. Feed grade antibiotics were also included in the diets starting day 3 post-placement.
Additionally, all pigs were vaccinated for prevention of PRRS and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae.
- T1, Control
- T2, ETS 2 included at 8% of the diet
- T3, ETS 1 included at 8% of the diet
- T4, NF8 included at 9% of the diet
- T5, ETS 2 + yeast cells included at 8% and 0.10%, respectively
Pig weights and feed consumption were to calculate average daily gain (ADG), feed efficiency (Feed/Gain) and average daily feed intake (ADFI). Health data were collected, e.g. mortalities, pigs pulled and treated. The results of the trial (see Figure 1) indicate that pigs fed NF8 had significantly lower mortalities and pulls for medical treatment, with equal growth performance compared to the other soy-based products.