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Animal Health

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Animal Health
Monday, October 31, 2016 5:59:57 PM
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The intestinal challenge: In "GUT" we trust !


Stephan Bauwens, INNOVAD NV/SA



Modern animal production is known for its high genetic potential, which is often unable to be achieved due to different and complex challenges during the animal's lifecycle. One of the critical points is situated at the border of the intestinal tube. This area carries an important responsibility in selecting what can be absorbed and what should remain outside the animal's body. To put this into the right perspective, it is important to note that the surface of the intestinal tract is 300 times the size of the surface of the skin. Simultaneously, it should give a similar level of protection against invaders, while being highly permeable to absorb nutrients. Intestinal health pops up as a very popular term for one of the most important but at the same time one of the most complex actions related to animal nutrition.


Intestinal microbiota and intestinal barrier, major challenges for young animals.


In order to obtain a high intestinal health status, possibly in combination with a reduced use of antibiotics, it is first of all important to understand the intestinal system.


The intestinal barrier is composed of different types of cells of which the enterocytes are the most abundant ones. These enterocytes are linked to each other by means of complex protein structures called tight junctions. This structure has the major task of closing the cell lines and avoiding paracellular passage of bacteria, toxins and other undesired substances from the lumen to the inside of the body. The intestinal lumen is folded into villi and microvilli in order to increase the absorption area for digested nutrients. The length and the structure of these villi is key to assure optimal feed usage and to obtain excellent FCR.


The intestinal microbiota is composed of more than 500 different species, which live in direct symbiosis with the host. They provide energy to the intestinal wall, prevent colonisation by pathogenic bacteria and help to maintain the intestinal immune system. It has been demonstrated many times that the status of the immune system is (partly) defined by the presence and the type of microbiota in the intestine. Young birds, at the moment of birth, have an extremely challenging start. The digestive tract, including the gastro-intestinal immunity, and the whole digestive process are immature, the microbial flora, and by consequence the production of volatile fatty acids, are inexistent and the environment is extremely challenging due to the immediate need for high performance and the presence of pathogenic bacteria. Immediately after hatching, everything should be done in order to start the digestive engine and build in safety precautions as the birds will have only one chance to make a good start. A failure, such as retarded performance or development of imbalanced microflora are unacceptable as this will show off at the end of the production cycle.


Carefully selected butyrate concepts.


Butyrate is an amazing molecule which has been used intensively for more than a decade in animal nutrition. In general, most benefits of butyric acid - as summarised in table 1- are well known and scientifically demonstrated. More confusion exists about the form in which butyric acid is added to the diet, referring to the place where butyric acid is released in the intestinal tract. We can all agree that the supplementation of pure sodium butyrate, which has a persistent and unpleasant smell, does not really have a major impact on the intestinal environment, as it is a water soluble component. A coated version is needed in order to reach the lower part of the digestive tract. Coating quality is an extremely important feature of the product and nutritionists should distinguish an "odour control"- coating from a real functional protection. The first group of products is mostly characterised by a high concentration of salts of butyrate (>50%), where the only function of the coating is the elimination of the butyric acid smell. Within the products at lower concentrations, it is more difficult to distinguish the real functional coatings and more sophisticated tests are needed to evaluate the target release properties. An optimal coating is found when not more than 20% of the present butyrate is released in the first step of a validated simulation test. At the end of the test, it is important that all the butyrate is released from its coating in order to avoid excretion of the active ingredient in the feces (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Importance of proven intestinal release to assure butyrate efficiency.


Alternatively, more recent attention goes to esterified forms of butyric acid. Mono-, di- and tri-esters of butyric acid are chemically produced and are composed of a glycerol molecule and respectively 1, 2 or 3 butyrate molecules. Due to their similarity with triglycerides, they will automatically bypass the stomach during the digestive process, while the butyric acid molecules will be enzymatically released by lipase into the small intestine. Extremely important to guarantee the efficiency of the product are the type of esters provided, their stability and the know-how and the control of the esterification process. Free fatty acids, moisture and the typical smell of butyric acid can give a clear indication of whether the esterification process is complete and irreversible.


One can easily understand the complexity of the intestinal system. Many scientists and veterinarians agree that one single non-antibiotic molecule will have its limits in order to control the overall situation.


LUMANCE® offers a concept and a synergistic approach to ensure a high intestinal health status. LUMANCE® is a complex, combining slow release and protection technologies, ensuring that acids, medium chain fatty acids, butyrate, essential oils, anti-inflammatory compounds and polyphenols are delivered in a gut active way for a powerful and effective antibacterial control, high quality tight junctions and tempering of the inflammatory cytokine production.


A trial (May 2015) carried out at the Department of Animal Science of the Oklahoma State University was able to reveal and reconfirm the value of butyrate based concepts in the early stage of broiler production. 350 male COBB broilers were divided over 5 treatments, 7 birds per pen (10 repetitions). The trial was run from day 1 to day 21 of life, comparing an antibiotic free control diet, Tylosin as AGP, NOVYRATE® C as source of coated butyrate, LUMANCE® (esterified butyrins combined with medium chain fatty acids and plant extracts) and unprotected sodium butyrate. Based on the results exposed in Table 2, the following conclusions can be made:


•  Both LUMANCE® and NOVYRATE®C show significantly higher body weights compared to other treatments at the age of 7 days. Knowing that natural production of butyric acid in the GIT is only significant after 10 days of life, it clearly demonstrates the benefit of butyrate supplementation during this period.

•  At the age of 21 days, both LUMANCE® and NOVYRATE®C showed the best performance results in terms of body weight and FCR. Both of INNOVAD®'s butyrate based concepts improved FCR compared to standard AGP. Looking at the body weight LUMANCE performed best numerically, which confirms the effective combination with the other active components in the formulation.

•  The uncoated sodium butyrate performed inferior to NOVYRATE®C and LUMANCE® , which confirms the need of proven target released properties for butyrate based additives.

•  Overall, NOVYRATE®C and LUMANCE® appear to be superior to unprotected sodium butyrate and can be used as valid alternatives for Tylosin in promoting growth and productivity in broilers.


Table 2. The effect of NOVYRATE®C, LUMANCE®, Tylosin and sodium butyrate on the growth performance of the chickens




The high genetic potential of today's production animals, combined with a clear and inevitable tendency to reduce the use of antibiotics, resulting in an increased risk of enteric problems, is a complex situation to manage. Butyrate, as a single component or in a synergistic blend, is a multifunctional molecule which can bring real benefits. The critical factor is the form in which the butyrate is supplied as this will determine the indispensable intestinal release properties. It is clear that young animals benefit from such supplementation from the start and carry the effect until the end of the rearing period.



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Article made possible through the contribution of Stephan Bauwens and INNOVAD NV/SA

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