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Rapid phosphorous test helps to hit a moving target in feed formulation

A new NIR test developed by feed ingredient suppliers DSM can help feed producers to track constantly changing levels of Phytate-P and Total-P in raw materials. The new test will allow a more precise use of phytase in the feed formulation for improved animal health and growth.

Most people in the feed industry have heard about NIR analysis of protein and fat, but what about phosphorous in the form of Phytate-P and Total-P?

 To give feed and premix suppliers better information about the level of phosphorous in raw materials, DSM have developed new calibrations for use with NIR instruments. The new test data can help nutritionists to calculate the amount of Total-P and Phytate-P present in the diets they are formulating based on real-time data from  incoming raw materials instead of index figures of what it should be.DSM scientist, Raffaella Aureli explains how understanding Phytate-P variability and measuring phytate levels in ingredients will help to maximize the use of phytase supplements to release phosphorus. “Our feed formulation can be closer to the recommendation for the animal and for the users at a premix plant we can include the right level of phytase required to release the phosphorous needed by the animal,” she says. Phosphorous and Phytase
Phosphorous is usually considered the third most expensive component of poultry feeds, after energy and protein. The majority of plant-origin feed ingredient phosphourous is in the form of phytate (Phytate-P).Phosphorus is an essential nutrient in livestock diets. It affects growth, reproduction and feed use. Much of the naturally occurring phosphorus in feed ingredients is unavailable to animals. With most plant phosphorus being excreted undigested, inorganic phosphate has to be added to diets to compensate.This is where Phytases come into the picture. Phytases are digestive enzymes which release plant phosphorus from phytic acid.


Moving target

Reliable knowledge of the phosphorous content of raw materials is increasingly relevant for the latest generation of efficient phytase supplements that can make the most of the available substrate.
In line with this trend, there is considerable interest in obtaining precise data on total phosphorus (Total-P) and phytate (Phytate-P) in major feed ingredients. As a long-standing supplier of phytase products, DSM wants to be as accurate as possible in the advice they offer on this topic, but a constant barrier is the changing nature of materials. “The nutrient content changes from batch to batch, country by country and, for example with corn, we experience big differences for protein, phosphorous and Phytate-P,” says Raffaella. “That’s why it is necessary to have a way of determining the levels for each ingredient.”

Rapid data with NIR

Senior Scientist Patrick Guggenbuhl describes how speed is of the essence when it comes to decisions on feed formulation in daily practice. To ensure this data is relevant, it is important for farmers and animal nutritionists to have an accurate, cost-effective and rapid method of assessing nutritive values of feed ingredients. NIR is a cost-effective method offering almost instant information.
“This has a huge advantage over other methods,” he says. “Using the NIR calibration avoids wet chemistry analysis and allows premix companies to give their customers valuable information for a competitive edge. Raw materials can be used more effectively and additional phytase can be administered more accurately. It helps to decide how much to apply and when to apply.”

Pilot study in Spain

The calibration was tested in Spain where it is used as a customer service formulation. Each time a new batch of raw materials is received the data is used to improve the accuracy of the NIR model. All kinds of raw materials are used in animal feed formulation. “That is why the database behind the calibration is quite large,” says Raffaella. “It needs to accommodate the different nutritional data across poultry, swine and aquafeed for example and the many different ingredient types.”

The development process

The need for a large database presented a major task in gathering information on Total-P and Phytate-P levels in a wide variety of feed ingredients. As a foundation, the developers sourced over 500 feed ingredient samples worldwide, representing 14 commercially important feed ingredients.
Total-P and Phytate-P analytical methods were set up at the company’s main laboratory in France (CRNA) and levels were determined for all these samples using the wet chemical reference methods. In parallel, all raw material samples were scanned with an NIR instrument (FOSS NIRS DS2500) to determine their NIR spectrum.

A set of samples was randomly selected to test different calibration algorithms on spectra or derivatives in order to identify the procedure that gave the best results for each biological parameter measured. Finally, the database with Total-P and Phytate-P level was combined with the NIR spectra to develop the equation.
Some compensation was required for the intra-sample variability of the particle size and the temperature. This was done using a repeatability file to stabilise the model. Two particle sizes (0.5 mm and 1 mm) and four different temperatures (10°C, 15°C, 30°C and 35°C) were integrated. The developed calibration was therefore representative of the different sample preparation procedure for predicting ingredient composition.

Available in 2015

The calibration will be made available in early 2015. As availability of the service may vary, the easiest way is to contact a local DSM representative.


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