Improving the lifetime performance of broilers: ABN and dsm-firmenich team up to deliver better outcomes

In Brief

  • Brian P. Kenyon, Senior Poultry Nutritionist at ABN, shares insight at dsm-firmenich’s Global Poultry Days 2023
  • Why Balancius® stood out to ABN as a different type of feed enzyme, working in a complementary way to traditional feed enzymes
  • On-farm trials resulted in commercial rollout

Collaboration in the value chain is key to bring products to market

ABN, part of AB Agri, the agriculture division of global food, ingredients, and retail group Associated British Foods plc, is a regional brand based in the UK, delivering high quality compound feed and nutritional expertise to the pig and poultry industry.

The poultry industry is worth nearly £5 billion* to the UK economy. ABN manufactures feed solutions focusing on producing the highest quality, affordable feed in a sustainable way. With ten manufacturing sites positioned in strategically important locations across the UK, ABN balances the benefit of a national brand with a global parent company, with local collaborations and a partnership approach with their customers.

By collaborating with customers, ABN can evaluate new solutions on a commercial scale. A robust “test and learn” approach allows ABN to make strategic decisions based on quantitative trial data as well as qualitative insight from poultry managers, and nutrition managers at ABN.

Adding commercial viability through the value chain

The collaborative partnership between ABN and dsm-firmenich allowed the opportunity for ABN to evaluate Balancius® early in product development. What was of interest to ABN was that Balancius® provided a new approach to get the most out of feed ingredients. Balancius® grabbed the attention of ABN’s nutrition teams because it doesn’t operate in the “normal” feed enzyme area and therefore, is not competing with other enzymes in the diet.

So, what does Balancius® do? Crucially, it is nutrient saving. And because the enzyme works on saving nutrients - not trying to get more - it is less susceptible to gut disruption and challenges.

A critical aspect to the enzyme is its heat stability, meaning it can be effectively incorporated into pelleted feed mixes and no post pelleting addition is required.

Before progressing to commercial trial, ABN evaluated a trial of control, 25K, 35K, and 45K Balancius®, in conjunction with the UK’s Harper Adams University. Results of the small-scale trial, which replicated that already done by dsm-firmenich, showed 35K Balancius® was the highest performing in terms of feed conversion rate as well as having the lowest foot pad lesion score. Welfare standards are high in the UK, and ABN aligns with those values, therefore attention is always paid to feed that results in litter which reduces the incidence of foot pad lesions, hock burn and breast blisters.

On-farm testing was the key to meeting UK standards

Moving from university-based studies to commercial trial was the next step, and in 2019 ABN collaborated with an existing customer, a small independent integration in the North East of England. Spanning twelve sites, the business supplies to butchers, farm shops, and independent restaurants. The trial site comprised four houses operating in a 2 x 2 set up, with shared feed bins. Biomass heats the houses, each containing 34,000 Ross 308 sexed birds, totalling 136,000 birds across the site.

Three 8.5 week cycles were planned and the following recorded:

  • Daily temperature
  • Humidity
  • Water consumption
  • Mortality
  • Culls
  • Weekly live weights
  • Feed deliveries
  • Processing plant total weights, reject and welfare outcomes.

Balancius® was used at 35K per the initial trial, and crops 1 and 2 showed some interesting insights.

Crop 1 with Balancius® outperformed both the control and Ross 308 standard for average liveweight, despite the lower feed conversion ratio at day 40.

Crop 2 showed Balancius® equalled the Ross 308 standard, and outperformed control at average liveweight at 40 days and sat mid-way between control and Ross 308 in terms of FCR.

Crop 3 was undeliverable owing to a timing clash with the covid pandemic. However, the results of Crops 1 and 2 were enough to inform the ABN team, and when combined with their years of experience and strategic thinking the team approved Balancius® for commercial roll-out.

Balancius® is now included in ABN’s standard vitamin and mineral premix, bringing added value to customers.

Published on

14 May 2024


  • Poultry
  • Broiler
  • Lifetime Performance
  • Enzymes
  • Eubiotics

About the Author

Brian P. Kenyon - Senior Poultry Nutritionist at ABN

In 2016 Brian joined ABN, the UKs largest independent monogastric feed manufacturing business as a member of their poultry nutrition team, with key responsibilities for product development and providing nutritional technical support to the UK poultry industry. Brian’s current role involves all aspects of commercial poultry nutrition, working closely with customers to provide safe, sustainable, high quality affordable solutions for their operations.


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