March 09, 2021

Ruminant Nutrition Symposium Recap

The Ruminant Nutrition Symposium on March 8, 2021 focused on feed additives in Dairy and Beef Cattle. Four speakers representing industry and academics spoke. A brief review of each talk is listed below.
By Dr. Emily Taylor, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.

Current Status and Future Prospective of the Use of Plant Bioactive Compounds in Dairy and Beef Cattle, Dr. Sergio Calsamiglia – Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Dr. Sergio Calsamiglia, began the Symposium discussing the need for in vivo evidence of essential oil's effects on rumen fermentation and production performance. "There is an extensive offering of blended essential oils on the market; however, the in vivo evidence to support these specific parameters is minimal". Dr. Calsamiglia's then reviewed a few issues surrounding the use of essential oils on rumen fermentation. 

1. Essential oils lack specificity. 

2. The optimal dose in vivo needs to be clarified.

3. Some essential oils work well together; however, these oils' potential synergies are unknown.

The minimal performance data available suggests a positive increase in milk yield for dairy animals and improved DMI, ADG, and gain:feed ratio in beef animals. In addition to further research needed to obtain data around performance, research evaluating the post ruminal effects of essential oils may also provide a potential benefit. Research suggests a positive impact on the intestinal wall of monogastrics, as well as improving immunity, metabolic responses, and meat quality in cattle. However, these effects were observed at very high doses compared to those used in commercial settings. Ultimately, there are benefits of using essential oils, though more research is needed to make specific recommendations. 

Utility of 3-NOP in Beef Production Systems, Dr. Karen Beauchemin – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Dr. Beauchemin, discussed a new feed additive that causes methane inhibiton (3-Nitroosypropanol; 3-NOP). She began her presentation by addressing the drive for GHG reduction and how it has moved from the government to more of a push within the private sector. Many companies within the beef industry have promised a reduction in GHG emissions as the 'Status quo'; no longer is it acceptable for methane emissions to come from beef cattle.
As a commercial application - 3-NOP is still investigational and not approved in the USA/Canada. Although, the research does provide early data to suggest that feedlots and cow-calf herds may benefit. 

Next Steps for Microbial-derived Feed Additives, Dr. Ehsan Khafipour – Diamond V
Dr. Ehsan Khafipour provided information on how microbial-derived feed additives have changed over the years while beginning with a defined description of:
Probiotics
 – Live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.
Postbiotics
 – Functional bioactive compounds generated in a matrix during fermentation, which may be used to promote health.
Prebiotics
 – Substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit. 

He further discussed microbiome modulation strategies: Reducing antibiotics and other molecules with inhibitory effects, Seeding using probiotics as fecal microbiota transplants, Promoting health within the host with prebiotics, and Optimizing functionality and promoting health with postbiotics that include a combination of promotive and suppressive metabolites. Dr. Khafipour also stressed considerations for these strategies. 

    • Life Stage – Age-specific products
    • Niche – Rumen, lower gut
    • Target – Digestive health? Immune health? Both?
    • The application period and cost

Hidden Mechanisms of Nutraceutical Function, Dr. Michael Ballou – Texas Tech University
The word nutraceutical combines nutrition and pharmaceutical that describes a compound that exerts some health benefit. These benefits could include immune modulation, decreases in infection, and may even improve performance. Dr. Ballou focused on the health benefits of biological modifying polysaccharides during his presentation. These polysaccharides are very diverse, with each influencing a different biological response. He emphasized that structure, size, and purity determine the function, with the primary targets including monocytes, macrophages, and neutrophils. One specific study he presented evaluated different sized β-glucan fractions. Larger β-glucan fractions target macrophages stimulating an inflammatory response, while smaller fractions target innate leukocyte responses with limiting inflammation.
Overall, natural bioactives may help improve livestock's health and performance; however, a better understanding of composition, purity, structure, and size is needed. 

A recording of the symposium will be available after the meeting on the meeting website.