In human gut health is associated with absence of clinical diseases. In animal rearing this definition is not applicable as the performance of the animals can be affected way before any clinic sign is visible. Gut health is actually referring to a status of healthy balance or equilibrium of the intestinal content, where mucosa, feed and microflora are the main components.
Animals with a healthy gut will perform better. They can metabolize the energy provided via the feed to meat and don’t lose energy in handling intestinal disturbances. If the gut health is undermined by malnutrition, bacteria or toxic compounds, the animals will try to restore the optimal condition through an immune response, which requires energy and nutrients. This defense mechanism competes with the animal´s nutrient demand for maintenance and growth. This results in productivity losses; 10% lower weight gain is not rare.
By considering gut health as a part of the general management of the farm (remove) the farmer will be able to achieve better technical and financial results. The approach is multidisciplinary and prevention is as important as giving extra support in solving issues, if not even more important.
Prevention is taking away potential sources of danger on one hand but also building a strong defense mechanism. That’s why a clean, balanced environment and clean drinking water for farm animals are the first aspect of maintaining a healthy gut. Providing nutritional supplements is a second line protection mechanism looking at improving digestion, supporting the immune system and maintaining a rich and diverse microbiome.