When thinking about co-products in Animal Industry, feathers are often neglected and ignored as a raw material .
However, due to the innovation and technology processes developed by BRF Ingredients, chicken feathers have become rich inputs, with important nutrients for the Animal Nutrition industry.
In this sense, feather hydrolysates have gained prominence in the Animal Food Industry due to their nutritional and environmental benefits.
It should be noted that these raw materials, previously considered waste, are being transformed into functional and sustainable ingredients, contributing to improve the quality of animal food and reduce environmental waste.
This is the case of BioActio Efficiency, the Feather Hydrolysate developed by BRF Ingredients from the feathers of chickens from BRF's integrated production chain.
Enriched with functional bioactive peptides, BioActio promotes efficient nutrition for animals and a better cost-benefit ratio for producers. The Feather Hydrolysate also forms part of a sustainable portfolio.
A fundamental theme for sustainability, the re-signification of animal co-products impacts on the reduction of more than 13 million tons of leftovers in the environment — in landfills, soils, rivers — every year.
The production of the BioActio Efficiency ingredient occurs through an enzymatic hydrolysis process, which uses water with the addition of enzymes to break protein molecules into smaller units and generate bioactive peptides.
This provides, as we will see later, proven benefits for animal health, metabolism and performance, as the peptides contained in the BioActio portfolio are absorbed directly into the bloodstream of animals, increasing the apparent digestibility coefficient (ADC)  in aquatic and swine species.
In this article, we'll explore the importance of using feather hydrolysates in the Animal Nutrition industry and the reasons and benefits for including ingredients like BioActio Efficiency in the species' diet.
The importance of hydrolysates and why include them in animal nutrition
Feather Hydrolysates are a high quality source of protein. Rich in all the essential amino acids to meet the metabolic requirements that animals need, these foods provide energy, vitamins and minerals, whose focus is on the principles of increasingly specific precision nutrition.
Hydrolyzed proteins can also help reduce the risk of food allergies in animals. This is because hydrolyzed proteins are less likely to trigger an immune response than intact proteins .
On this basis, BioActio Efficiency has 100% of the bioactive peptides below 3,500 Da. This means that the ingredient has a low molecular mass, reducing the chances of allergy and increasing the crude protein content to 89%.
For these reasons, hydrolyzed proteins are increasingly used in animal nutrition . As they are a good source of protein for animals of all growing stages, they can help improve health and performance.
Several benefits are found in the inclusion of hydrolyzed proteins in animal nutrition, such as BioActio formulations. However, some aspects that we have already mentioned stand out, including:
- ● Better digestion and absorption of nutrients;
- ● Reduced risk of food allergies;
- ● Better gut health;
- ● Increased growth and weight gain;
- ● Reduction of food waste.
It is worth mentioning the last highlighted point: “reduction of food waste”. The protein ingredients developed by BRF Ingredients have a high level of palatability, due to many factors arising from the formulas’ production, promoting more attractiveness and palatability to the species.
It is noted that BioActio Efficiency has more than 87% preference for weaned piglets compared to 13% of animals fed a control diet.
The presented data is confirmed by scientific research carried out by the State University of Western Paraná — Unioeste — with 1,350 weaned piglets analyzed after the fifth day of weaning.
It is concluded that the inclusion of BioActio Efficiency, for example, is essential for improving the health and metabolism of the species, as we will see in more detail below.
Beforehand, however, it is always important to mention the cost-effectiveness of the formulation for the producers. According to a study by Embrapa , animal nutrition is responsible for approximately 70% of operating costs, with protein accounting for 33.3% of this total.
Therefore, it is healthy to invest in nutrition and formulations that meet the metabolic needs of the species with a focus on both animal health and well-being and gains for producers.
That is, improving food conversion (ratio between weight gain and consumed food), reducing the waste of undigested food by animals in the ecosystem, as provided by BioActio Efficiency.
Results and Benefits of BioActio in aquaculture and pig farming
As explored so far, the inclusion of a formulation rich in bioactive peptides, produced with chicken feathers as raw material, which guarantees an enriched ingredient that delivers better performance and cost-effectiveness with sustainability is crucial for the animal nutrition industry.
But what are BioActio Efficiency’s scientifically proven results?
Enhanced Animal Performance
Bioactive peptides have specific functionalities, providing antioxidant action and improving nutrient metabolism (in vitro and in silico analysis).
Weight Gain and Feed Conversion
As mentioned above, BioActio is easily absorbed and quickly metabolized, contributing to weight gain and feed conversion rate.
Low Molecular Mass
100% of peptides below 3,500 Da. Hypoallergenic, BioActio raises the apparent digestibility coefficient of crude protein up to 89%.
The enzymatic hydrolysis of chicken feathers from the BRF chain provides compounds with a lower molecular mass, resulting in a more attractive and palatable ingredient.
And what are the specific benefits in fish, shrimp and pork?
In tilapia’s diet, the inclusion of BioActio Efficiency improves the weight gain of fish in the post-larvae phase by 41% and by 25% in the fingerling phase.
In addition, it improves the feed conversion rate by 31% (post-larvae) and 18% (fry); and increases the final growth rate by 42% (post-larvae) and 23% (fry).
In shrimp’s diet, the inclusion of the BRFi’s ingredient improves the zootechnical indices of animals in the nursery phase — 4% (weight), 15% (biomass) and 6% (food conversion rate).
In the fattening phase, BioActio Efficiency increases weight by 18%, biomass by 17% and improves food conversion rate by 5%.
For swine nutrition, BioActio provides high palatability, promoting an 87% increase in piglet feed preference.
These and other results and benefits are scientifically proven in tests and research carried out by BRF Ingredients and partner Universities and Research Centers, in comparison with results from control diets and/or fish hydrolysates.
In conclusion, Feather Hydrolysates are emerging as a promising source of protein and nutrients in the animal feed industry.
BioActio Efficiency, by BRF Ingredients, scientifically demonstrates its benefits and advantages to animal nutrition and cost-effectiveness to aquaculture and swine breeders.
Having the ability to improve both animal health and metabolism quality, BioActio contributes to better performance of species, in addition to promoting sustainable practices by adding value to co-products from BRF's production chain.
By reusing chicken feathers as a raw material, BRFi develops enriched ingredients and demonstrates a social commitment, through innovation, with the environmental responsibility that governs its pillars.
Talk to one of our experts and learn more about applications and benefits of BioActio Efficiency in the diet of aquaculture and swine animals: Contact - BRF Ingredients.
 Science Direct. Hydrolysates can be defined as proteins that are chemically or enzymatically broken down to peptides of varying sizes. Available in: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/hydrolysate. Access: August 2023.
 Komarcheuski, Alina Stadnik. Digestibilidade e palatabilidade do hidrolisado enzimático de penas em cães. Universidade Federal do Paraná. Available in: https://acervodigital.ufpr.br/handle/1884/69104. Access: August 2023.
 Nascimento, Adriana Helena do. Motivos e Benefícios para incluir o Hidrolisado de Penas na dieta animal. Available in: https://www.locus.ufv.br/handle/123456789/11005 texto completo.pdf (ufv.br). Access: August 2023
 Pacheco, Gabriel Faria Estivallet. Farinha de penas: Uma fonte proteica sustentável para cães e gatos? Editora Stilo. Available in: https://www.editorastilo.com.br/pet-food/pet-food-2/farinha-de-penas-uma-fonte-proteica-sustentavel-para-caes-e-gatos/. Access: August 2023.
 Embrapa. Produção animal e recursos hídricos. Available in: https://www.embrapa.br/busca-de-publicacoes/-/publicacao/1048070/producao-animal-e-recursos-hidricos. Access: August 2023.
 Moura, Adolpho Marlon Antoniol. Conceito da proteína ideal aplicada na nutrição de aves e suínos. Available in: https://www.nutritime.com.br/artigos/artigo-004-conceito-da-proteina-ideal-aplicada-na-nutricao-de-aves-e-suinos/. Access: August 2023.