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Enzymes in animal feeds

  1. Enzymes in animal feeds
  2. Enzymes used in animal feed
  3. How enzymes changed the poultry industry

Enzymes in animal feeds

Enzymes were first added to animal feed in the early 1980s to address various economic, animal health and environmental concerns.  It is estimated that the market value for enzyme use in animal feed  exceeds $US 600M and growing.  One of the most used enzymes is phytase which account for 50% of global sales.  Other enzymes share the remaining 50% with enzymes degrading non-soluble polysaccharide accounting for a significant share.

There are several enzyme families that are important in animal feed. Each has a specific role and function, and when used correctly will result in numerous benefits for the poultry producer. In this post we will discuss the types of enzymes commonly used in poultry feed and their importance not only for the industry, but also to poultry producers and to the environment.


Enzymes used in animal feed

Protease: an enzyme that breaks down animal or vegetable protein in the feed into their component amino acids.

Carbohydrase: breaks down plant material such as fiber and starch into simple sugars. Carbohydrase enzymes used in the feed industry include xylanases, glucanases and amylases.

  • Xylanase and Glucanase: Target non-starch polysaccharides, thereby releasing energy from the fibrous portion of grains and grain byproducts.
  • Amylase: is important in providing energy to animals as it targets starch molecules in plant material.
  • Phytase: Breaks down phytate molecules, the form of phosphorus found in plants that is not naturally available for the animal, to release available phosphorus for animal growth.

 How enzymes changed the poultry industry

Non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs)

Many plant based animal feeds contain long, complex carbohydrate or fibrous molecules known as non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs).  It is well recognized that NSPs have an ANF impact.  NSPs increase the digestion viscosity, which means that the animals own enzymes have a harder time locking and absorbing these nutrients, but they also encapsulate some nutrients and making them unavailable.  The inclusion of xylanase and glucanase NSP enzymes, allows the breakdown of these ANFs in feed and leads to improved digestion, resulting in greater feed efficiency.


Phosphorous is a key nutritional requirement for animals to provide bone growth.  Most of the phosphorus contained in animal feed of plant origin exists in the storage form phytate.  Poultry and swine cannot digest phosphorus contained within phytate, since they lack phytase, the enzyme that breaks down this phytate molecule.  Therefore the inclusion of the phytase enzyme in animal feed is required for release of phytate-bound phosphorus.  This enables the reduction of Inorganic Phosphorous, which is most commonly applied in the form of DiCalcium Phosphate (DCP) into animal feed.  

Ozymes is discovering and developing enzymes that will be used in animal feed to help improve the nutrients available to the animal to absorb. By harnessing the natural power of enzymes, producers will see an increase in the feed conversion ratio (FCR) and consequently reduced feed consumption and cost. At the same time, the quality of the meat will increase as the animal will be consuming a quality nutrient.