Innovative European products can bring livestock production advantages

Local distributor among Ontario’s fastest growing companies

Canadian hog farmers looking to improve their biosecurity in the face of rising global concerns about African swine fever have a new weapon in their arsenal.

Stalosan is a dry environmental additive that can be used in livestock facilities to lower the spread of pathogens and is ideal in situations where liquid footbaths can’t be used.

The Danish product is distributed by Protekta, a southwestern Ontario family business.

Why it matters: Growing consumer interest in better animal welfare and reduced antibiotic use is driving demand for preventive products like environmental additives and feed ingredients.

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“The main active is organic phosphate low in pH that kills pathogens,” said Lasse Jakobsen, business development manager with Protekta and Vilofoss USA. “It’s an extra defence barrier that helps maintain biosecurity and lower the spread of pathogens, and can be used when animals are present in the barn.”

According to Jakobsen, a maintenance program in a pig barn would require one to two applications per week at 50 grams per sq. metre. In cases of a disease outbreak, the product should be used two to three days in a row, but still at the same rate. One bag of Stalosan covers about 300 sq. metres, resulting in a cost of about 12 cents per sq. metre, Jakobsen estimated.

Special T Swine, a partial farrow-to-finish operation east of Brussels, has been using Stalosan in various aspects of the operation since the product’s early days in Canada. According to Jason Terpstra, it’s common practice, for example to put a cup or two on the floor of a farrowing room after cleaning, disinfecting and drying, where it will act as a dry boot dip to keep things clean.

The Terpstras also use it as an environmental cleaner to keep pathogens to a minimum with pigs that have scours or are otherwise not performing as they should.

“When there is a large problem, especially scouring, it’s one of the first things to grab; we’ll reach for that quicker than the antibiotic, depending on the pathogen we’re up against,” Terpstra said. “It’s wonderful for the 24-hour bugs.”

Among other products in Protekta’s lineup is a German product called PECKStone, which are blocks that can be placed inside poultry housing to minimize cannibalism and feather pecking.

In dairy, Protekta has brought X-Zelit to North America, a calcium-stabilizing dairy feed additive given to cows before calving to reduce milk fever risk. Originally developed at the University of Copenhagen, it’s now owned by Vilofoss, a European vitamin-mineral premix business.

According to Jakobsen, regulatory changes in Europe forced farmers into more preventive approaches to livestock farming. This resulted in the development of products like those Protekta now offers in North America, where antibiotic use regulations are also becoming stricter and consumer concerns around welfare are driving change throughout the supply chain.

It’s a big reason behind the company’s 259 per cent growth in the last five years — a figure that helped Protekta place 257th on the 2018 Growth500 list of Canada’s fastest growing companies, one of only six companies from the agriculture sector in last year’s rankings.

“The demand (in North America) has grown and we’ve been there to help meet that need — farmers are more receptive now,” said Jakobsen. “Consumer demand is driving demand for these products. Less antibiotic use and better animal welfare, prevention over treatment — these complement good management.”

It was the swine industry that first brought the Jakobsen family to Ontario from Denmark when his grandfather’s search for new genetics resulted in him buying a Huron County farm from where he bred and exported his own piglets back to his home country. Lasse’s father Morten, Protekta founder and chief executive officer, moved his family to Canada about 15 years ago and started the business shortly thereafter.

Today, the company has a team of six staff and distributes product into the United States from a warehouse in Mississauga, as well as servicing Canadian dealers and distributors.

Protekta is in the process of forming a U.S. company. The goal is to grow the North American marketing and move towards production on this side of the Atlantic, starting with X-Zelit this year in the U.S. and next year in Canada.

“We hope to continue on this growth. We are still in our infancy,” Jakobsen said. “The demand is there for these products and we believe they are the right way to raise animals.”

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