By Jan Vervloesem, Global Category Manager Poultry, Agrimprove

In recent years, poultry production seems to have become a lot more complicated. Increasing scrutiny and legislation with regards to food safety require more stringent biosecurity measures to combat feed and food contamination by pathogens, chemicals, and biological toxins. The rejection of antibiotic use drastically changes farming concepts and practices. Climate change disrupts cereal yield and quality. And factors such as Avian Influenza and geopolitical tensions that put additional strain on the poultry industry’s profitability.

How poultry farms can come out on top

Amidst all these complexities, you may wonder how poultry farms can keep themselves afloat, let alone improve their bottom line. Remarkably, the answer proves to be simpler than you may think. Evidence shows that a return to fundamental strategies – or going back to basics if you will – often brings the highest return on investment.

Focus on gut health and FCR

As feed costs constitute 60-70% of poultry meat production expenses, optimizing feed and protein efficiency is paramount. Key to this is nurturing the development of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) from day one and maintaining its integrity during the entire production process. This is crucial to obtain optimal nutrient absorption and digestion, and to protect the animals against pathogens. Long story short: by focusing on gut health early in life, you can empower the chickens’ innate ability to express their genetic potential through self-regulation.

Strategies for enhanced efficiency

Several strategies have emerged to support GIT development and resilience, some more successful than others. Phytogenic molecules for instance, derived from plants, offer highly interesting functionalities such as antibacterial, antiviral, and antioxidative properties. Unfortunately, applying these molecules is not always ideal. Essential oils without protective coating or matrix often don’t even reach the intestine. And single molecule application lacks a synergistic optimum to broaden and strengthen the functionalities of the product.

Enter Supplant D, a product that has been specifically formulated to cost-effectively improve feed and protein efficiency. The product combines phytogenic compounds with other natural identical ingredients that support each other’s activity. To maximize their effectiveness, the active compounds (belonging to the terpenoid, phenolic, and alkaloid groups) are embedded in an acid and heat-stable oil-based matrix. By promoting gut health and development, Supplant D improves the feed conversion ratio (FCR) and modulates the immune system to prevent unnecessary redirection of proteins from growth to maintenance.

Scientifically proven importance and effectiveness

To understand the importance of nurturing gut morphology and barrier function in the initial weeks, let’s have a closer look at the small intestine.

Figure 1: Intestinal epithelium (A. Flandrin, 2017, Mise en place d’un nouveau test de perméabilité membranaire à l’aide de glycoprotéine-P renconstituée dan des protéoliposomes)

The intestinal epithelium consists of villi topped with microvilli, and at the base are crypts where villi formation begins. The lining contains secretion cells (paneth, goblet, enteroendocrine) and absorption cells (enterocytes). These cells develop from mast cells, grow, and migrate upward. Only mature enterocytes can absorb nutrients, after which they will naturally perish and be shed from the villi.

As shown in Table 1, broilers have a shorter enterocyte lifespan than pigs. This means damaged absorption cells have less impact on poultry than on pigs in the first +/- 10 days. However , this trend reverses at later stages. This because the damaged cells will be replaced faster. Investing in gut development early in a broiler’s life yields long-term benefits, although the visible effects may only become apparent later.

Enterocyte lifespan (days)
Age (days)BroilersPigs
1 – 22 – 57 – 10
2172 – 4
492 – 3
Table 1: Enterocyte lifespan of broilers and pigs at different ages (source: Intestinal development in chicks after hatch and in pigs around the time of weaning, Wijtten et al; 2011).

Studies and trials

An experiment at the University of Kasetsart in Bangkok, Thailand assessed the effects of Supplant D on the small intestine, showing significant improvements in villus height/crypt depth ratio, a key indicator of intestinal health.

ControlSupplant D
Villus height (µm)1242.841247.7
Villus width (µm)150.87151.42
Villus surface (mm2)0.1880.188
Crypt depth (µm)273.55242.25
Villi height/crypt depth4.539b5.23a
Table 1: Study of the jejunum (middle part of the small intestine) histomorphology during an experiment with Supplant D at Kasetsart University, Bangkok.

Additionally, a US trial conducted at the Virginia Diversified Research Facility found that Supplant D increased feed AME and standardized ileal amino acid digestibility, leading to enhanced broiler performance. By promoting gut health and modulating the immune system, Supplant D improves protein efficiency, even under stress conditions such as temperature fluctuations, nutritional imbalances, or microbial challenges. Given the enterocyte lifespan mentioned above, the performance enhancements increase as broilers age.

Trt no.TreatmentLast day Wt/bird (kg)FCVMAFCVMort (%)
1Control (Basal)0,4051.1411.1410.000
2Supplant D0,4171.1191.1150.417
RCB P-value; Tukey’s 0.05*0.0230.1220.0850.488
Trt no.TreatmentLast day Wt/bird (kg)FCVMAFCVMort (%)
1Control (Basal)2,2481.7851.7701.458
2Supplant D2,3231.7291.7191.249
RCB P-value; Tukey’s 0.05*<0.0010.0050.0070.361
Table 3: Summary of performance data of applying Supplant D (150 g/ton of feed.


The balanced composition of Supplant D promotes intestinal health, directs nutrients for enhanced protein efficiency, and ultimately drives broiler profitability. Embracing these strategies not only optimizes efficiencies but also positions businesses for sustainable growth in the poultry industry.

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Marc Intven
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