Optimising Gut Health to Overcome Performance Losses

Optimising Gut Health to Overcome Performance Losses

Written by Mart-Marie van Zyl, lead monogastric nutritionist, Trouw Nutrition South Africa - Article courtesy of Porcus Magazine, September - October 2021 Issue. Vol 42 / no. 5

Modern production animals selected for rapid growth are more susceptible to stress and the metabolic disturbance that comes with it. The challenge for the producer is to manage these animals as best possible to allow the animal to reach its full genetic potential whilst minimising economic losses. Steering gut health throughout the life cycle of the production animal is a key element to obtaining this.

Interventions early in life can help with this, setting the stage for robust lifetime performance. Trouw Nutrition’s Gut Health programme focuses on positively influencing feed, farm, and health management from conception throughout all phases. Focusing on early life and specifically the period around weaning, also known as the “immunity gap”, where the piglets’ immune system is still immature and at the same time, they are no longer protected by maternal antibodies from the sow’s milk. This period of low protection lasts until 42 days of age. The developing immune system of piglets and environmental stressors increase the risk of post-weaning health issues threatening growth and performance.

The use of antimicrobials helps to overcome the negative effects of an immature immune system. However the use of antimicrobials increases the risk of antimicrobial resistance, this practice is rapidly declining, therefore other tools are needed to help to manage the immunity gap. Research shows that functional feed additives in the Trouw Nutrition Swine Health Programme can help maintain animal health and production efficiency while reducing the use of antimicrobials.

Trouw Nutrition has developed an integrated strategy for steering health which is built on five pillars that aim to:

1) prevent bacterial intake;

2) support digestion;

3) boost gut integrity;

4) increase diversity and stability of the gut microbiota;

5) modulate the immune system to support natural defence mechanisms.

Optimising Gut Health to Overcome Performance Losses
Improving microbial balance and increasing
gut barrier function

Stress caused by weaning affects the gut microbiota community and the gut epithelium integrity. A diverse, stable microbial community is directly related to better feed conversion ratios in both healthy and challenged animals. Presan-FX is a synergistic blend of organic acids, medium-chain fatty acids, target release butyrates, slow-release C12 and a phenolic compound, designed to stabilise microbiota and strengthen the gut barrier.

Research shows that Presan-FX, along with an acidifier increased the abundance of Faecalibacterium, which plays an important role in maintaining intestinal microflora stability and has an anti-inflammatory function. The abundance of Lactobacillus – known to promote animal gut health - also increased. Other studies revealed that Presan FX and an acidifier positively influenced the microbial community of weaned piglets under challenging conditions. Piglets’ faecal microbiota showed an increase in relative abundance of beneficial gut commensals like Ruminococcaeceae, Lachnospiraceae, and Lactobacillaceae. Furthermore, an increased relative abundance of bacterial families known to generate butyric acid by fermentation of cellulose was found, thereby supporting gut health.

Piglets’ microbiomes also showed a higher presence of bacterial families that help promote gut development and reduce gut inflammation.
On the other hand, piglets fed the control diet showed an increase in some bacterial families known to negatively affect health. A meta-analysis involving 25 scientific studies from 2011 and 2020 in Canada, Europe, Asia and South America, showed that the gut health-improving additive tended to improve piglets’ daily gains by 2.3% during the first 14 days after weaning.

Trouw Nutritions’ Global Swine Health Manager states, “The early life phase is crucial for pigs’ lifetime performance. Applying an integrated feed, farm, health approach and incorporating functional feed additives to promote animal health and support efficient animal performance, the Trouw Nutrition swine health program sets animals up for lifetime performance.” Focusing on early gut development helps the animals to be more robust throughout all production phases. More robust animals react less
to all stressors and allows the producer to gain maximum production and more economic gain.

Trouw Nutriton South Africa strives to be innovative and continues to ask the one question on everyone’s mind: What can be done to improve production efficiency while reducing the use of antibiotics?

By asking this, we are continuously busy with trials, not only on a global scale but, also locally to prove our concepts and validate the financial benefits which can be seen by the producer.