Nutrition is the very objective of feed; singularly, it is the most important factor affecting livestock productivity and farm profitability. Feed for production livestock is probably the most scientifically designed food among all living beings, including humans.
The perceived value of nutrition is measured and defined in very broad terms, including nutritional value, nutrient balance, nutrient bioavailability, etc. In terms of feed formulation, a gap always exists between the nutrients formulated and the nutrients available to the animal; the latter hinges on variables such as feed intake, gut environment, and assistance in digestion and absorption.
Even the best formulated feed can only provide value to the animal if and when consumed. The changes to feed ingredients or feed during storage and exposure to adverse environments often leave colors and odors that are less palatable to livestock. Additionally, there are similarly unpalatable components of the feed, such as minerals, vitamins, and medicinal ingredients. Natural or nature identical flavors capable of masking such “off” odors significantly help livestock increase consumption.
The optimal conditions inside the gut also are critical for improved bioavailability of nutrients. The gut environment is regulated by a combination of inter-dependent factors, such as gut acids and naturally inhabiting microflora. As an acidic pH favors digestion, absorption, and control of pathogenic microorganisms, products that can acidify the gut are immensely helpful in optimizing performance.
In addition, products such as digestive enzymes and organic minerals that assist digestion and absorption are of great value to enhancing the nutritional value of feed.