By infuencing intestinal functionality, animals become more resilient. But what can we do to influence gut health? Research by Wageningen Livestock Research provides answers.
The animal's intestinal health can be influenced by different factors. One of these factors is the microbiome, a collection of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, that an animal carries in, for example, its intestines. Other host factors include the immune system and the intestinal tissue. External factors include animal feed, genetics, and housing systems. In Wageningen, we study these factors in an interdisciplinary teams and together with partners.
Factors of influence:
- Immune system
- Animal feed
- Genetic potential
- Housing systems
Improved gut health in poultry, pigs and cattle
The gastro-intestinal tract of farm animals is the location where nutrient digestion and absorption takes place. Adequate availability of nutrients in a balanced ratio is a keystone for efficient and sustainable animal production. However, additional functions of the gut have been associated to its barrier function and the presence of an extensive microbiome. The microbiome plays a role in immune development in farm animals and in the capacity to respond to health and dietary challenges. Moreover, the intestinal microbiome and its metabolites communicate with other organs and tissues in the body affecting their responses and metabolism.
A proper functioning of the digestive tract with its very diverse functions and support of intestinal health is therefore key for productivity, health, and well-being of farm animals.
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Can we prevent or reduce intestinal disorders?
Yes, we can. By adopting preventive approaches such as appropriate dietary strategies and combining that with smart managemental practices in animal husbandry. Such preventive approaches will allow to raise more resilient farm animals with optimal productive performance while safeguarding animal welfare.
How can we reduce antibiotic use in animals?
By employing a multifaceted approach, including animal nutrition, genetics, and behavior, it is possible to increase the resilience and robustness of animals. This reduces the animal’s disease susceptibility and incidence. Consequently, less antibiotics or other veterinary drugs will be used to treat animals with clinical infections and diseases.