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Exclusive interview with Viktor Eckel, team manager at Dr Eckel Animal Nutrition

Victor Eckel provides insight about feed protection and Anta Shield. (Image source: Dr Eckel)

Viktor Eckel, team manager marketing and E-learning at Dr. Eckel Animal Nutrition speaks with Far Eastern Agriculture about feed protection and Anta Shield

Can you give us some insight into the latest product developed by your company?

Viktor Eckel: Our latest product innovation is Anta Shield, an additive made from plant extracts that protects the feed against African swine fever. Contaminated feed is a risk that should not be underestimated for the spread of the virus, which causes devastating losses in the millions in global pig production every year. Feed containing the ASF virus shows practically no activity of ASF virus already three days after treatment with Anta Shield. 

Anta Shield is based on highly effective phytogenics and contains bioactive ingredients from plants that have been cultivated for thousands of years for the very purpose of protecting food from pathogens. With this purely natural formulation, farmers can better protect their animals’ feed.

Can you highlight the role of Eubiotics (particularly phytogenic feed additives) in animal health and what makes them a better alternative to antibiotic growth promoters?

Viktor Eckel: Antibiotics are still a precious weapon in fighting illnesses. But the problems with their use for growth promotion are commonly known: Firstly, the use of AGPs in livestock production considerably adds to the global problem of growing resistances. Secondly, they tend to only mask problems and their effects without solving them in a sustainable way.

The main features of phytogenics in feed additives are their anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and beneficial effects on the organism as a whole. In the right combination, phytogenic additives can help to reduce infections and inflammations, improve general health status, help to prevent behavioural problems and stabilise the digestive system. Animals that are healthier and calmer, have less infections and a stable microbiome will also perform better, thus performance and quality will improve, and they will need less medication. That means that producers can sell better quality at better prices, thus meeting ever-increasing consumer demands for higher quality and sustainably produced food. All while avoiding the common pitfalls of AGPs and leading to future-proof production systems. 

So the advantages of innovative phytogenic additives over AGPs are simply: more health and well-being for the animals, more profit for livestock producers, better and safer food for consumers and a reduction in medication and resistances. 

How does feed synergy improve animal performance?

Viktor Eckel: The performance of our livestock depends on several parameters. The main parameters that can be directly influenced by feeding include feed conversion, general health and the immune system. If we act on just these three points, we improve nutrient uptake, intestinal health and thus immune defence, resilience and stress tolerance. Phytogenics in the right combination have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects and can be formulated for maximum efficacy. They also stabilise the gastrointestinal and immune systems and can bring down stress levels. Thus, you do not simply get better performance in the short term, but the animals become healthier overall, need less medication, metabolise their feed better, deliver optimal performance and high-quality food. It is clear that this kind of synergistic combinations yield the best results. Feed less – gain more: this is the way to sustainable feeding.

Can you give some examples of synergistic feed additive blends that are part of your product line?

Viktor Eckel: Phytogenics are ideally suited to produce synergistic combinations. This ensures that we can optimally address our clients’ needs and improve the efficacy of our products. Let me give you two examples:

Take our endotoxin management product Anta Catch. Endotoxin-related problems are practically inevitable in high-performing livestock production and occur even on well-managed farms. This is because rations high in starch and protein that are needed to meet energy and protein requirements for high performance will most often lead to elevated endotoxin levels. Inflammation, liver damage and necrosis can occur and feed efficiency decreases. 

To counteract this, a synergistic approach is required that will bring down the high endotoxin levels in the first place and also treat inflammation processes. Anta Catch has a unique triple mode of action to ensure the best results against endotoxin effects: It brings down the harmful effects of endotoxins across the board by reducing endotoxins in the digestive tract. In addition, its contains prebiotics to strengthen the intestinal barrier and, finally, the phytogenic ingredients support the liver, counteracting excessive inflammatory reactions. 

The second example is a combination of two products: Anta Phyt and PreAcid. Anta Phyt improves the three most important success factors in animal nutrition at once: animal welfare, health and performance. The combination of highly bioactive substances has a proven antibacterial effect against gram-positive bacteria and acts primarily on the intestinal system. 

PreAcid is a combination of organic acids and prebiotic components. While the organic acid component acts against gram-negative bacteria, effectively protecting the proximal gastrointestinal tract, the prebiotic GlucoFence complex provides the small and large intestine with highly available energy for villi growth. It thus efficiently supports intestinal integrity and the development of a healthy gut microbiota. 

In this way, the two products complement each other ideally to achieve an optimal long-term result.

What makes your products innovative and unique when compared to other feed additives that are already available in the market?

Viktor Eckel: There are probably a number of things that set Dr Eckel’s products apart from other additives on the market, but let me just mention three main factors: First, we have been in the phytogenics business since the mid-1990s. That is quite a long time compared to other market players. As a result, we have an exceptionally high level of experience in terms of the components to be used and how to use them, the individual and combined effects, the technologies and the production methods. We’ve seen a lot, we’ve tried a lot, we’ve also failed a lot, and all of this has led us to bring out only the best: the most effective formulations for the best results in terms of animal welfare and performance. 

Secondly, we differentiate our products through innovation: We are continuously conducting large research projects with external partners. In these projects, we identify and choose the components and technologies that work most effectively, rather than settling for an easy option. We are always looking for improvements to our products and addressing the market needs, i.e. through better production methods, adjustments in the formulation and new, innovative products. 

And thirdly, we are a value-orientated family business with a focus on excellence. Our customers can always be assured that they will not only receive the best ingredients, but also products that are reliable and easy to work with. In addition, we are always on hand to provide our customers with our expert advice and support to ensure top service at all times.