New knowledge about the role of vitamins in nutrition benefits producers only after it has been translated into recommendations that help maximize their profits. Yet one of the daunting challenges in updating these recommendations has been the task of reviewing the appropriate research from around the world. Internationally recognized as the leader in this field, Roche Animal Nutrition and Health (now part of DSM Nutritional Products) unveiled the compilation of this information in January 1997. The result is revised recommended vitamin fortification levels for the diets of livestock, poultry, fish and companion animals.
Nearly 70 Roche (now DSM) animal nutrition and health professionals around the world took part in the review before suggesting that previous fortification recommendations be increased, decreased or kept the same. The goal has been to develop ranges of vitamin fortification levels that meet the vitamin needs of animals worldwide in accordance with differences in genetics, physiologic makeup, feeds, management and environment. The review was especially beneficial because it let us identify research from other countries or markets that otherwise might have been overlooked.
A case in point is the new range for vitamin E fortification levels for finishing swine. The scientists reviewed 70 studies—less than half of these having been conducted in North America—on the effects of dietary supplemental vitamin E on meat quality. The breadth of that research was remarkable—especially considering that many journal articles on the subject may reference only 20 or 30 such studies.
The effort has also served to highlight the research strengths of different regions. For instance, European researchers have done a tremendous job in studying improvements in pork and poultry quality with vitamin E supplementation. Some European producers have been feeding higher levels of vitamin E for years. In North America, more research has been done on the beef side.
Often, a revised recommended level falls between earlier ones from different regions. For example, the previous recommended vitamin E fortification levels for broiler chicks were significantly higher in Europe than in North America. After reviewing the literature, comparing husbandry differences and considering industry trends, the committee set the global standard between the two levels.
In other instances, the group would not increase an OVN standard even though much of the industry has already increased fortification levels. If the research work did not support the rationale for a higher level, it was not recommended.
These recommendations are guidelines for nutritionists and veterinarians, since local conditions can have a major impact on the vitamin needs of animals. Increasingly, nutritionists are tailoring their recommendations to the individual operation, and that fits with the ranges we have developed.