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Young animal nutrition Check out your feed – Is the protein you give to weaned piglets and young broilers as digestible as you need it to be?

Why use a starter feed from the day the chicks hatch?

Feed strategies that focus on minimizing the indigestibility and NPN fraction of raw materials are a worthwhile investment.

Check out our Feed Your Brain knowledge hub on our website.

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What is Feed Your Brain? Feed Your Brain is the HAMLET PROTEIN knowledge hub – the go-to place for updates on the latest research and innovations within young animal nutrition. Online, you’ll find our archive of seminars by international animal nutrition experts; presentations of research findings and trends; and articles on animal nutrition topics published in international journals and magazines. It’s an open resource, available to everyone interested in giving young animals the best start in life – with lifelong benefits for their health, growth and performance. Find Feed Your Brain at hamletprotein.com/fyb




June 2016 World Pork Expo, Des Moines, Iowa


January 2016 and 2017 IPPE, Atlanta

November 2014 and 2016 EuroTier, Hannover

March 2015, 2016 and 2017 VIV Asia, Bangkok

talks by experts




More than videos, presentations and articles available


800 participants at 9 events

at hamletprotein.com 3

Article by Carsten Pedersen, PhD, Nutritionist at HAMLET PROTEIN

Why use a starter feed from the day the chicks hatch? Give hatchlings an easily digestible diet, and they’ll grow to their full potential. Chicks grow and develop at an incredible rate during the first week of hatching. With just 34-42 days from the beginning to end of the broiler production cycle, that makes the right choice of starter feed particularly critical. The key consideration for the producer is the digestibility of the feed. Both the digestive tract and immune system are highly immature at hatching. So, unless the feed is easy to digest, most of the nutrients will pass through the digestive tract un­absorbed and be excreted in the droppings.

Resorting to the yolk sack The chick will then draw energy from the immunoglobulins and unsaturated fatty acids in its yolk sack, leaving little for development and immunity. This is a serious problem for a chick that needs to develop vital organs and quadruple in weight by the time it is seven days old. The fact that chicks can go up to 48 hours from hatching to their first intake of feed is an added pressure. For all these reasons, a sub-optimal feed will only add to the challenges a chick has to overcome. Apart from impairing growth due to poor nutrient absorption, it will increase vulnerability to pathogenic bacteria and viruses, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter.


The importance of tailored feed In other words, the importance of a feed that is specially tailored to the needs of chicks up to the age of ten days cannot be understated. The same goes for broilers during the grower and finisher phases. Producers will experience that broilers fail to reach their growth potential and that feed efficiency is compromised.

Much has happened to improve the efficiency of broiler production since the 1970s, when the average lifecycle was a much longer 60 days. An optimized starter feed that takes the immature digestive systems of hatchlings into account is another step in the ongoing optimization process. 

Many nutrients are necessary to ensure proper growth. One of the most important of them is protein. Due to its high quality and lower cost than proteins from some animal sources, soy protein is a popular choice. Here, again, digestibility is the key to success.

Optimizing soy protein digestibility The issue with soy protein in its untreated form is its content of anti-nutritional factors (ANF). Though not a problem for older broilers, in the immature digestive system of a newly hatched chick ANF have a direct negative impact on protein absorption – and the chick’s potential for healthy growth. The answer is reduction of the anti-nutritional factors to a very low level, while maintaining the nutritious protein components intact. Today, this has been made possible by a processing technique developed at HAMLET PROTEIN, the company behind HP AviStart – a specialty soy protein for chick starter feed. Calculate your savings with our Broiler Calculator: www.hamletprotein.com/broilercalculator

Article by Thikhamporn Charoenwai, Poultry Nutritionist at HAMLET PROTEIN

Better broilers from top to toe Specialty soy protein reduces foot pad lesions and improves overall performance in lifecycle feeding trial. Foot pad lesions reduced The trial was performed with five treatments, six replicates and 37 Ross 308 broilers per replication. Feeding was divided into three phases: starter (day 0-11), grower (day 12-28) and finisher (day 29-42). After the starter phase, all broilers received standard commercial grower and finisher feeds.

Foot pad lesions – or dermatitis – are most common in younger broilers as their skin is thinner and more sensitive. Once lesions develop, the affected birds are also at greater risk of infection.

Protein sources compared In a recent feeding trial, performance was compared when broilers were fed starter diets containing a range of protein sources. The control diet contained 34.4% soybean meal, which is the most used protein source in broiler feed. Due to a typically high level of anti-nutritional factors, however, soybean meal can be hard for young broilers to digest. In the trial starter diets, 5% of the soybean meal was replaced with potato protein, fish meal, corn gluten or HP AviStart. Developed by HAMLET PROTEIN, HP  Avi­Start comprises digestible proteins and a low level of anti-nutritional factors and is made by co-processing soy and yeast.

0.8 Y



0.6 0.4

Overall, the feeding trial confirms that HP AviStart has a strong carry-over effect from the first ten days of starter diet to the final day of the broiler production cycle. Broilers performed better all round – also under their feet. 




Av iSt HP




n tei

ea l Po ta


ea n





Highest production index

Once again, HP AviStart emerged as the top-performing protein source, demonstrating the lowest FCR and mortality and the highest production index (PI).



The trial results show a clear difference in the incidence of foot pad lesions between starter diets. While potato protein and fish meal perform well, the lowest incidence of lesions is evident in broilers fed the diet with HP AviStart.

Foot health was, of course, only one aspect of broiler performance under investigation. The trial also measured pen weights, feed intake and dayto-day mortality. Feed conversion rate (FCR) and weighing were finally calculated on day 42.



When feed contains a high level of poorly digestive protein, then the level of nitrogen in broiler droppings will go up and the droppings will become looser and stickier, clinging more easily to the broilers’ feet. Due to the caustic nature of the droppings, the risk of foot pad lesions is increased.



Foot pad lesion

Among the causes are wet bedding and foraging areas and high humidity, caused by poor ventilation. Another is diet.


Fis hm

Efficient broiler production is not all about performance. Animal welfare issues such as foot pad lesions are an equally important concern. The results of a feeding trial indicate that starter feed with specialty soy protein could be part of the solution.

0 = no lesions 1 = small lesions 2 = affected skin 3 = lesions x,y,z indicate a significant difference Performance, mortality and PI at 42 days

(soybean meal)


Potato protein

Fish meal

HP AviStart

Corn Gluten



End weight (g)








Total Feed Intake (g)
















Mortality, %

















PI =

BodyWeight (g) X survival rate X 100

x, y, z 

is a significant difference (P<0.01)

FCR X duration of the trial (days)


Article by Katia Pedrosa, Poultry Nutritionist at HAMLET PROTEIN

10 important days in the life of a broiler Australian study confirms the carry-over effect of starter feed with HP AviStart.

HP AviStart is a source of highly digestible soy protein that is low in anti-nutritional factors. For the trial, 2.5%, 5% and 10% doses were added to maize and wheat-based starter diets which were then fed to male Ross 308 birds from day one to day ten. The control diets contained no HP AviStart. The birds were housed in groups of ten, with six replicates per treatment. Regardless of whether broilers received the wheat or maize-based diet, feed conversion rate and carcass yield were both improved if the diet contained HP AviStart. The highest dose of the specialty soy protein gave the lowest FCR compared to the control (table 1). Table 1:  Performance from day 1-35 of birds fed increasing levels of HP AviStart during starter period (day 1-10) in a maize or wheat-based diet.







HP AviStart (2.5 g/kg)

HP AviStart (5 g/kg)

HP AviStart

FIGURE 1 shows that, in the maize-based diet, the greatest improvement in the ileal digestibility of protein was 10% at an addition level of 2.5% HP AviStart. The maximum improvement in the wheat-based diet was 5%, observed in broilers fed the diet with 5% HP AviStart. Ileal digestibility of protein

Why does an efficient starter diet during the first ten days make a difference to broiler performance throughout the production lifecycle? A feeding trial at the University of New England, Australia, has investigated the carry-over effect of HP AviStart from HAMLET PROTEIN on broiler digestive systems.

(10 g/kg)

Fl (g)





BW (g)










Fl (g)





BW (g)














Inclusion level of HP AviStart



In broilers fed both the maize and wheat-based diets, villus/crypt ratio increased following a starter diet with HP AviStart and was highest at a 5% addition rate. A strong correlation was observed between villus/crypt ratio and breast meat.

– mean values with an a and b superscript in the same row are significantly different (P<0.05)

Improved carcass yield was calculated from breast, thigh and drumstick measurements. Compared to the control group, birds fed a starter diet with HP AviStart had around 10% more breast and thigh meat and 5% higher drumstick yield. The highest yield was obtained with 5% addition of HP AviStart (table 2).

FIGURE 2 Carryover effect at day 24 on villus/crypt ratio after feeding HP AviStart in the starter diet (day 1-10).




HP AviStart

HP AviStart

HP AviStart





Breast (g)





Thigh (g)





Drumstick (g)





Carcass yield (%)





Breast (g)





Thigh (g)





Drumstick (g)







Carcass yield (%)

(2.5 g/kg)

(5 g/kg)

(10 g/kg)

Villus/crypt ratio

Table 2


84 82 80 78 76 74 72 70 68 66

16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0

0.0% 2.5% 5.0% 10.0% Inclusion level of HP AviStart Maize


These findings support previous studies of the carry-­over effect of HP AviStart on broiler performance, gut health and protein digestibility. Improved body weight and feed conversion rate alone point to a high return on investment when HP AviStart is added to broiler starter feed. 

There are more articles for you to read online Digestive and nutrient requirements of young chicks need to be recognized At IPPE 2016 in Atlanta Technical Sales Manager David Nelson from HAMLET PROTEIN held a TechXchange seminar on The Importance of Early Nutrition on Broiler Growth. The seminar was very popular and had a large audience of people from all over the world. FeedNavigator has mentioned the seminar and the highlights of Davidâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s presentation in an article entitled: Digestive and nutrient requirements of young chicks need to be recognized by Senior Editor Jane Byrne.

Broiler super pre-starter formulation secrets revealed In an article for WATT AgNet, nutrition editor Ioannis Macromichalis writes about the results from feeding a super pre-starter broiler formula versus a conventional one for the first seven days post-hatch in a European commercial facility. It suggests that an ideal super pre-starter formula would contain more purified protein, such as soy proteins. Based on field performance under commercial conditions the article further concludes that: An investment in early nutrition pays good dividends at the end. To read the full article go to: www.hamletprotein.com/fyb-articles or scan the QR code: (Referral to the article is made possible with kind permission from WATT AgNet).

The article sums up that industry needs to focus attention on what is given to broilers in the first week of life. To read the full article go to www.hamletprotein.com/fyb-articles or scan the QR code: (Referral to the article is made possible with kind permission from FeedNavigator).

Can highly digestible specialty proteins in broiler starter feed fill the antibiotic-free gap? Growth-promoting antibiotics have become a no-go in starter feeds for newly hatched chicks. So what can manufacturers do now to enhance early growth and overall broiler performance? In an article for WATTAgNet, nutrition editor Ioannis Macromichalis considers the issue of feed digestibility and some of the highly digestible specialty proteins that are filling the antibiotic-free gap. Research suggests they are worth the extra cost. To read the full article go to: www.hamletprotein.com/fyb-articles or scan the QR code: (Referral to the article is made possible with kind permission from WATT AgNet).


Article by Lars Sangill Andersen, MSc, Nutritionist at HAMLET PROTEIN

Cut indigestible protein

– and do piglet health a favor Higher vulnerability in piglets

The most bioavailable nutrients give the best return on investment.

Studies have shown that the indigestible protein fraction is higher in young piglets (<20kg) during the first few weeks after weaning. Piglets of this age are also more sensitive to anti-nutritional factors in the protein than pigs over 25kg.

One of the most important parameters when evaluating feed ingredients is the digestibility of the nutrients they contain. Published in nutrition guides, these digestibility values are often used in research projects to verify published data or shed light on new hypotheses – and they are of key importance when formulating feed for each stage of an animal’s life.

Crude protein (N x 6.25) is calculated as nitrogen from amino acids and from non-protein nitrogen (NPN). As figure 1 shows, the digesti­bility of the amino acid fraction varies. This causes various amounts of undigested amino acid to enter the large intestine along with the NPN fraction.

Risk of diarrhea

However, another equally important parameter often receives less attention. That is the amount of undigested nutrients in feed and their effect on animal health. Due to the comparative vulnerability of their gut, piglets are of particular interest in this regard.

Proteolytic bacteria in the gut feed on these two crude protein fractions, promoting bacteria growth and risking a microflora imbalance that can cause diarrhea. At the same time, ammonia produced in the gut is absorbed and contributes to the nitrogen load that must be removed by the liver and excreted from the kidneys via urine. This both costs energy and diverts liver capacity away from other metabolic outputs that support growth and health. Feed strategies that focus on minimizing the indigestibility and NPN fraction of raw materials are a worthwhile investment. Risks and maintenance costs are reduced, and healthy young animal growth is in full focus. 

Major feed nutrient Protein is among the nutrients that both have an easily digestible part and a fraction that passes through the digestive tract without being absorbed. As the most expensive of the major nutrients in feed, it is critical to feed manufacturers and farmers that the protein they use is as digestible as possible. Financial considerations aside, undigested protein is also a potential cause of gut health problems – and it costs energy when nitrogen from deaminated amino acids is removed and excreted via the liver and kidneys. Figure 1: Digestibility of the protein sources used in pig and piglet feed

Composition in 1000g product

amino acids (g)

non-protein nitrogen (g)

770g CP













470g CP



700g CP

200g 626g

560g CP 515g


600g CP

650g CP


720g 670g

575g CP 40g


720g CP


700 600

digestible amino acids (g) (pigs) CP = crude protein



300 200

130g CP 30g 100g


100 0 HP 100

HP 300



Soya bean Low protein meal SPC

Potato protein

Other vegetable proteins

Whey powder

Fish meal DK

Fish meal Poultry by 65 -product meal Animal protein

Note: SID values for crude protein and amino acids have been given by the producers of the protein sources.

Article by Gary Fitzner, PhD, PAS, Nutritionist at HAMLET PROTEIN

Science makes feed for better performance Research is developing new nutrient specifications in line with piglet needs. Formulating a piglet starter diet is today almost as much an art as it is a science. As every feed nutritionist knows from experience, there are many conside­rations involved in making sure that pigs not only eat the feed but also grow efficiently and healthily. New knowledge is gradually taking the art out of formulating piglet starter feed. By insisting on a scientific approach, researchers are developing a set of ingredients that can meet the specific dietary requirements of younger animals and maximize their growth and performance. Among the focus areas right now is the question of nutrient digestibility. In a meta-analysis conducted by HAMLET PROTEIN in collaboration with the University of Illinois, it was found that the digestibility of the amino acids (AA) in different soy-based ingredients changes as piglets become older.

10% lower SID AA in piglets As most published values for ingredient digestibility have been determined in growing or finishing pigs, the metaanalysis confirms that such standardized ileal digestive (SID) values are not applicable to pigs that weigh less than 20kg.

In fact, the study’s findings show that the SID AA measured in pigs below 20kg is about 10% lower than that of pigs above 20kg. Taking the amino acid lysine as an example, figure 1 shows the potential difference in formulation if the SID lysine of all the protein components in the diet is reduced by the same amount as the soybean meal in the meta-analysis. But what are the implications of this when formulating post-weaning pig diets? Figure 1:

If, on the other hand, the age-related change in SID AA values turns out not to be consistent across all ingredients, then the use of published values will rank feed ingredients incorrectly. In that case, the calculated values will be overstated, and the nutrients less efficiently utilized by the young pig than expected – with a likely negative impact on pig performance.

1.50 1.40 1.30 1.20 1.10 1.00 0.90 0.80

As the meta-analysis only included soy-based ingredients, it is not known if the age-related difference in SID AA values is consistent across all ingredients used to formulate feed for the early phases of nursery diets. However, should further research reveal that the age-related change in SID AA values is consistent across animal meals, high protein vegetable meals and grains, then the use of published values will result in the correct proportion of ingredients in the feed but will overstate actual SID AA requirements.

  SID Lys, >20 kg.   Meta-analysis < 20 kg.


The right balance and amount of amino acids

This brings us back to the original statement about the formulation of pig starter diets being more of an art form than a science. As nutrient digestibility continues to be measured in pigs below 20kg, a set of nutrient specifications is being developed specifically for young pigs. This is taking us one step closer to making decisions that are more scientifically based. 

First of all, if the SID AA values are used to formulate diets for piglets, then the AAs that are actually absorbed by the young pigs are somewhat less than those calculated. By the same token, the SID AA requirements of young pigs will also be overstated because they are based on published values that reflect the requirements of older growing/finishing pigs.

d e r e u F Yo n i a r

Feed Your Brain presentations Check out our Feed Your Brain presentations at www.hamletprotein.com/fyb for a quick overview of findings and trends in young animal nutrition.


Article by Carsten Pedersen, PhD, Nutritionist at HAMLET PROTEIN

Does your piglet feed overestimate protein digestibility? New meta-analysis suggests typical feed formulations use the wrong values.

All the data collected for the analysis covered soy-based ingredients for piglet starter feed. It is clear from the analysis that pig weight does have an impact on the SID of protein and amino acids.

trypsin inhibitors – to a level where young animals can tolerate them. This is reflected in the higher numerical SID for crude protein. The SID of the CP in FSBM, on the other hand, is even lower then SBM.

Higher digestibility with low ANF

Pig weight makes a difference

Protein digestibility is a primary concern when formulating feed for weaned piglets. But the fact is that most current formulation practices don’t get it right. The reason is that they use digestibility values based on growing and finishing pigs – and, in doing so, over-estimate the digestibility of raw materials in younger animals.

Table 1 shows the SID of the crude protein (CP) in soybased ingredients. Here, it can be seen that fermented soybean meal (FSBM) has the lowest SID, followed by de-hulled soybean meal (SBM 48%). Enzyme-treated soybean meal (ETSBM) and soy protein concentrate (SPC) have the highest.

The meta-analysis also investigated the SID of crude protein in animals of different weight. Table 2 shows the results obtained with the crude protein in SBM 48%. Piglets weighing less than 20kg at the start of the experimental period had a significantly lower SID than pigs weighing 20kg and above.

To evaluate age-related differences in nutrient digestibility, HAMLET PROTEIN and the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois teamed up to conduct a meta-analysis of standardized ileal digestibility (SID) data published in 1998-2013.

The data clearly documents the impact of processing on the SID value of crude protein in soy-based feed ingredients.

It is as yet unknown whether the age-related change in SID seen with SBM 48% is the same across all raw materials. If the change is not consistent, then the digestibility values for growing and finishing pigs, which are typically used for formulating feed, will rank raw materials incorrectly for young piglets. 

In processing ETSBM, FSBM, SPC and SPI, the objective is to reduce the anti-nutritional factors (ANF) in soybean meal – including antigens, lectins, oligosaccharides and

Table 1: Standardized ileal digestibility (SID) of CP of SBM 48%, SBM 44%, ETSBM, FSBM, SPC and SPI (n=145). Different subscript letters indicate significant differences at a level of 0.05. The ETSBM used for the analysis is HP 300 from HAMLET PROTEIN.

Item CP

SBM 48%

SBM 44%













Table 2:  Effect of initial body weight on SID (%) of CP in SBM 48%


< 20kg. N


20-50kg. Average


d e r e F You n i a 25



> 50kg.









In today´s formulations we have to account for the fact that the digestibility of the amino acids (AA) in soy-based ingredients changes as piglets become older



Gary Fitzner, PhD, PAS, Nutritionist at HAMLET PROTEIN Feed Your Brain seminar at World Pork Expo, USA, June 2016

Four ways to achieve piglets/sow a year During EuroTier in Hannover in November 2014, Danish pig producer, Claes Erlang spoke at a Feed Your Brain seminar and explained what management steps he has taken to reach the remarkable figure of 40 piglets/sow/year. Pig Progress caught up with him after the presentation to hear from him firsthand about his experiences and how he reached this magical number. Watch the video and see all about it: www.hamletprotein.com/40psy or scan the QR code:

 Anti-nutritional factors in piglet diets play a big role. They damage the gut lining, so the piglets don´t have the ability to digest the nutrients in the diet

Dr. Sheila Jacobi, Ph.D., Ohio State University. Feed Your Brain seminar at World Pork Expo, USA, June 2016

  Overall, great seminar. Good variety of topics that were well presented Stated by participant at earlier Feed Your Brain seminar. More than 80% of participants found the previous Feed Your Brain seminars to be “very good”.


HAMLET PROTEIN promotes the health, welfare and performance of farm livestock through soy-based specialty proteins for young animal feed. Around the world, our products are known to deliver an efficient, high quality source of vegetable protein with a strong return on investment. Our head office, research and innovation center and pilot plant facilities are located in Denmark, and we have production plants in Horsens, Denmark and Findlay, Ohio in the USA. All products and services are accessible through our global distribution network.


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Young animal nutrition - let us Feed Your Brain  

We have put together a collection of articles on optimal nutrition for piglets and broiler chickens. Download our paper and let us Feed Your...

Young animal nutrition - let us Feed Your Brain  

We have put together a collection of articles on optimal nutrition for piglets and broiler chickens. Download our paper and let us Feed Your...