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Innovations for young animals

Published: 01-04-2016, | Member: Denkavit Nederland

Denkavit, a manufacturer of specialized high-quality young animal nutrition, is investing heavily in research into nutrients, raw materials and animal feed concepts. The company uses for example new raw materials, such as alternative protein sources, to develop innovative young animal nutrition concepts. With the high-level expertise in developing and manufacturing a range of innovative feed specialties Denkavit is contributing to sustainability and innovation in the feed and food chain.

“Traditionally, special feed for young animals, like calves, piglets and sheep and goat lambs, was made from dairy co-products like whey powder,” says Gijs Eikelenboom, commercial director at Denkavit. “But now that the food industry has taken an interest in this protein, it is getting scarce. So we’re looking for alternatives.”

Aside from feed for young animals, Denkavit also supplies custom-made raw materials to the feed industry. The company has subsidiaries in the Netherlands, France, Germany and Italy and exports to more than 50 countries worldwide. Production and R&D facilities (like research centers) are located in the Netherlands and France. Denkavit employs 430 people.

Healthy start
“Animal health and reducing the use of antibiotics are topics located high at our agenda. Young animals are vulnerable and a healthy start is crucial. In addition to genetics, feed and management are essential to ensure optimum growth and performance,” says Eikelenboom.

In 2011, Denkavit built a new R&D center and a new, state-of-the-art laboratory. Recently, the company built a new modern vealstable, expanding its DenkaFarm research capacity with 1,400 extra veal calves. Currently, work is underway on the construction of a 300 sow-pig research facility. Denkavit is developing new housing technology, including innovations in flooring, manure treatment and feeding systems. Its R&D centers enable the company to respond to the demands of the global market.

The company is also experimenting with alternative protein sources for young animal feed, Eikelenboom says. “Denkavit is working on several options, for example egg powders and insects. These products can be upcycled to high-grade raw materials. We’re working closely with manufacturers and research institutes. As for insect protein, we’re facing one important obstacle. Ever since the BSE crisis, there’s been a ban on using animal protein in animal feed. And insects are considered animal protein. So we’re lobbying to have those regulations changed.”

New nutritional concepts
Another focus in Denkavit’s R&D department is new nutritional concepts for young animals. Eikelenboom gives an example of the many innovations Denkavit has recently come up with for the veal calf industry. “We’ve developed specialized pellets, in addition to the milk replacer that calves receive as diet. This new calf pellet contains plant products like grains, soya and legumes and replaces part of the milk feed the calves get. This innovation is unique on the market and had positive results on farm level.”

Denkavit is also working on a new nutritional concept for piglets. “The number of piglets per sow keeps increasing, in the Netherlands and worldwide. Sows often don’t produce enough milk, so there’s a growing demand for additional feed (like milk replacers) for young piglets. Our response has been to develop a new piglet ‘milk line.”

Eikelenboom believes innovation requires cooperation. “If you want to innovate, you have to work together. That’s why we’ve also joined Food Valley NL. We’re a crucial link in the food supply chain and we want to make a positive contribution to animal health, animal welfare, the environment and food safety. We’d like to do so in collaboration with partners from anywhere in the production chain.”

Denkavit Nederland