Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production
Dr. Elliot Block

Innovative animal ag: How the last 20 years will inform what’s next.

Posted October 29, 2019 by Ben Towns, Associate Vice President, Americas

Twenty years ago the animal ag industry was a drastically different place, mostly thanks to advancements in science and technology. But those innovations don’t just happen—people like Dr. Elliot Block are behind them, driving the industry forward from behind the scenes. As Block celebrates 20 years with ARM & HAMMER, currently as the Global Director of R&D and Tech Services, he shared his perspective on how the animal ag industry has evolved and what he anticipates for the future.


Before the turn of the 21st century, ARM & HAMMER supplied dairy producers with just two main product categories to help improve herd productivity—buffers and bypass fats. But a “series of accidents” led to today’s broad portfolio of ARM & HAMMER livestock production and food safety products—not only for dairy producers, but for the poultry, swine and beef industries as well.

Dr. Elliot Block had been a professor of dairy science at McGill University in Montreal for 20 years. After repeated attempts, Dr. Kenneth Cummings, then ARM & HAMMER research and development director, convinced Block to join the ARM & HAMMER team in 1999. The research-focused nature of the position intrigued Block, as working on new things and new ideas was an essential part of any job that would keep his interest.

In the next few years, the industry saw giant advancements in the form of DCAD Plus and MEGALAC®-R (now known as ESSENTIOM). These products were brand new to the industry—and they were brain children of Dr. Elliot Block.

DCAD Plus was designed to give cows the potassium they need without adverse ration heating or the negative effects of chloride. It replenishes the potassium cows lose through production, keeps them hydrated in the face of heat stress and supports milk fat production.

“The DCAD idea came to me in grad school,” Block says. “I had been thinking about it for a long time.”

The Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) in ESSENTIOM were a novel idea as well. Previously, it was difficult for cows to get the Omega-3 and Omega-6 they need for immune function and post-calving recovery. With this new rumen-inert energy source, cattle could stay energized and thrive in terms of start-up milk, reproductive health and performance.

“These were new concepts entirely. ARM & HAMMER allowed me to develop them and supported me in bringing them to life. ARM & HAMMER truly brought these to the industry,” Block says.

On the other side of DCAD balancing, Block was instrumental in redeveloping BIO-CHLOR, finding a better way to improve its efficacy. BIO-CHLOR is a palatable anion source that drives bacterial growth to support rumen function and optimize metabolizable protein (MP), delivering the negative DCAD required to consistently acidify cows.


As if formulating three new products didn’t keep Block and the other brains at Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production busy enough,  the game changed from dairy nutrition to a focus on gut health when Church & Dwight acquired Vi-COR in 2015.

“It was invigorating to incorporate the Vi-COR products into our offering,” Block says. “This was the first time we moved to species other than dairy.”

This acquisition introduced products like A-MAX and CELMANAX to Block’s research responsibilities. A-MAX is a yeast culture that supports optimal fermentation and digestion, while CELMANAX combines the benefits of multiple feed additives in one formula to deliver Refined Functional Carbohydrates (RFCs) that help animals maintain resilience in the face of challenges.

“Now instead of just racing to meet the nutrient requirements of animals at a reasonable price, we’re fighting mycotoxins, Salmonella and E. coli.” Block said. “It was a step out of the box and opened up a brand new future.”


Two years later, Church & Dwight acquired Agro BioSciences, bringing along microbial solutions like CERTILLUS and Microbial Terroir.

A Microbial Terroir assessment determines the microbial makeup of a farm and its animals, helping to identify the challenges it may be facing. Then, certain live cultures of Bacillus are used from different formulations of CERTILLUS to fight the specific problems of each farm.

For Block, this was one step closer to achieving livestock health and safety, giving producers the ability to battle Clostridia, Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli while the animals are still alive.


Continuing the accelerated innovation they’ve become accustomed to, ARM & HAMMER completed the link between farm and food with the acquisition of Passport Food Safety Solutions. Now more able to fully impact a safe and affordable food supply, the industry has a one-stop shop for pre- and postharvest food safety and animal health solutions.

Antimicrobial solutions like the DBDMH line of products—including BoviBrom®, AviBrom® and PorciBrom®—help reduce food-borne pathogens in beef, poultry and pork, respectively. And with the help of preharvest solutions ARM & HAMMER has already been working on, food will continue to get safer from farm to fork. 

In the next 20 years.

In the future, Dr. Block predicts that consumer preference will continue to necessitate removing antibiotics and growth enhancers from routine use in animal production. More innovations around RFCs and microbial solutions will have to step up to maintain animal health and productivity.

For Block himself, he’s excited about the potential to take his research all the way to the supermarket, finding environmentally friendly ways to extend the shelf-life of vegetables, produce and milk.

For its part, ARM & HAMMER will continue innovating with an ever-growing team of #ScienceHearted experts like Dr. Elliot Block, until our mission of providing a safe and affordable food supply everywhere is achieved.




Want to learn more about what our #ScienceHearted team can do for your operation? Fill out the form below and one of our experts will be in touch shortly.




About Ben Towns

Ben Towns has over two decades of dairy industry experience and has spent over half of his career with Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production. His initial role with the business was as a Channel Account Manager from 2008 to 2014. He returned to ARM & HAMMER in 2016, and currently serves as the Global Business Director. Ben holds a B.S. in Dairy Science and an M.S. in Dairy Science Management from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and received his MBA from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater.



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