A feed additive is a food supplement for farm animals that can't get enough nutrients from regular meals that the farmers provide. Vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, K…), amino acids (methionine, lysine…), preservatives (citric acid…), essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega 6), emulsifiers (agar, guar gum) and essential micro minerals (iron, manganese, zinc…) are examples, among many others. In some cases if an animal does not have some specific nutrition in its diet it may not grow properly. The nutritional values of animal feeds are influenced not only by their nutrient content, but also by many other factors. These include feed presentation, hygiene, digestibility, and effect on intestinal health. Even with all of the benefits of higher quality feed, most of a farm animal's diet still consists of maize, wheat and soybean meal because of the higher costs of quality feed.
Types of feed additives in the European Union
A zootechnical additive improves the nutritional value of a diet. It doesn't give nutrients directly to the animal, but through its diet. This category includes, among others, enzymes and certain phytogenics.
Coccidiostats and histomonostats control the health of poultry through direct effects.
The benefits of feed additives
Environment. Some feed additives have the potential to reduce the amount of ammonia found in the manure of the animals or in the barn air. Ammonia is a major pollutant; it contributes to an acidification of soils, as well as to respiratory problems in animals and in humans living close to farming operations.
Welfare By improving manure quality, litter moisture and barn climate, feed additives can contribute to animal well-being and reduce the occurrence of certain diseases.
EU Regulatory aspects
According to EU Regulation 1831/2003, all feed additives to be placed on the market within the European Union have to undergo a thorough approval process. Products seeking approval for their use as feed additives are evaluated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Reference Laboratory, the European Commission and the 27 member states. Evaluation criteria include safety for the animals, consumers and factory workers. For additives claiming an increase in zootechnical performance, sufficient empirical data must be presented to confirm those claims.
- The EU Association of Specialty Feed Ingredients and their Mixtures (FEFANA)
- Fefana Asbl."Additives and premixtures." Fefana EU Feed & Additives Premixtures Association. Fefana, 2009. Web. 27 Oct. 2009.
- Zentner, Eduard (July 2011). "Effects of phytogenic feed additives containing quillaja saponaria on ammonia in fattening pigs". Retrieved 27 November 2012.
- "REGULATION (EC) No 1831/2003 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL", 18.10.2003, Official Journal of the European Union (EN), L 268/29