Over the last years, research has continued to focus on intestinal health and how this can be optimized to achieve high performance and animal welfare. Many different mechanisms play a role in intestinal health and function. Some important factors are:
The intestinal epithelium is the lining of cells at the surface area of the intestines. These cells absorb nutrients and function as a barrier to prevent pathogens or other unwanted substances from entering the inner body. The intestinal integrity indicates the extent to which the epithelium can perform its protective functions. Low integrity indicates substances and/or pathogens passing through. This results in inflammation, poor digestive efficiency and reduced animal performance.
Pathogens are a major factor in compromising intestinal health. For this reason, it’s important to control their presence in the intestine, to ensure optimal intestinal health. This can be supported by the use of feed additives that limit pathogenic growth.
The microbial composition of the intestine is dynamic; it changes with age and varies for different parts of the intestinal tract. A well balanced and diverse microbiome, will give opportunistic pathogens less chance to develop and adhere to the intestinal surface. However, stress and use of antibiotics can cause a disruption in the microbial balance, which provides an opportunity for pathogenic microbes to colonize. Feed additives can support the microbial composition in the intestine by supporting growth of beneficial bacteria and limiting the growth of harmful bacteria.
In order to achieve optimal intestinal health, it’s important to ensure good intestinal integrity, pathogen control and an optimal composition of the microbiota. A multidisciplinary approach, combining different feed additives, can be the solution!