LESS NE VIA SMART NUTRIENT COMBINATIONS
The synergistic benefits of enzymes and probiotics have shown great promise in helping producers realize nutrition and performance improvements, while limiting the impact of necrotic enteritis.
– DR KIRSTY GIBBS, Danisco Animal Nutrition (IFF), UK
Necrotic enteritis (NE) is recognized globally as one of the leading poultry disease challenges, costing the poultry industry close to two billion US dollars in 2015 alone. Historically antibiotics have been used to reduce the costly impact of these enteric diseases. There has, however, been a global elimination or reduction of antibiotics, resulting in a higher prevalence of NE and other costly diseases. NE may be present as an acute clinical disease or a subclinical condition. As a clinical disease, NE is characterized by a sudden increase in flock mortality. While wet litter can be an early indicator of this form of the disease, often there are no warning signs. The subclinical form of NE, more prevalent in recent years, can be difficult to identify. In this case obvious clinical signs are lacking and there is no peak in mortality, as with acute NE. Instead, chronic intestinal damage remains undiagnosed, leading to poor digestion and absorption, decreased weight gain and increased feed-conversion, all of which amounts to significant production losses.
Diet effect on necrotic enteritis
An intestinal environment that favors the growth of C. perfringens is a key risk factor for the development of necrotic enteritis and nutrition is one of the predisposing factors in the development of the disease. Protein-rich diets or diets with high concentrations of poorly digestible substrate, specifically indigestible, water-soluble, non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs) found in wheat, rye, oats and barley, act as nourishment for bacteria. By creating an environment in which C. perfringens can thrive, protein-rich diets predispose birds to necrotic enteritis. In addition, physical characteristics of feed, specifically particle size, can influence the incidence of NE. For example, larger feed particle size promotes gut development, including development of the gizzard. Undigested nutrients flowing to the hind gut increase viscosity, digesta retention time, and microbial growth in small and lower GIT and decrease oxygen tension and nutrient digestibility in the small intestine. Combined, these effects impact growth performance and directly contribute to undesirable shifts in the gut microbiota, negatively affecting feed conversion ratio (FCR) and bird health.
Balancing the cost and quality
It is vital to understand the impact of nutrition on the incidence of NE when making decisions about feed. Feed producers often substitute other crops rich in non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs), as a cost-saving measure. As the quality of feed and its subsequent ease of digestibility is sacrificed, it is common practice to supplement with feed enzymes, such as xylanase, amylase, protease and others. These enzymes improve the nutritive value of cereals and other ingredients containing high levels of NSPs or other anti-nutrients and other substrates such as starch and protein, thereby enhancing the animal’s performance, in comparison to non-supplemented diets.
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Nutritional strategies to inhibit NE
Enzymes can positively affect the gut microbiota by reducing the quantity of undigested substrates through improved feed digestibility but also producing specific compounds (e.g. oligosaccharides) used by beneficial microflora. This is crucial since optimal nutrition and a balanced gut microbiota are the two components that work in tandem to enable healthy performance. A balanced microbiota plays a vital role in inhibiting the colonization of potential pathogens, supporting immune development and providing nutrients to the host. However, the establishment of a mature and beneficial microbiota, a process known as microbial succession, takes time. Probiotics have become recognized for their ability to support the establishment of a positive gut microbiota in animals. Feeding probiotics from day one promotes the quick establishment of a positive microbiota and guards against colonization by coliforms, such as C. perfringens, that may have a negative impact on performance, such as C. perfringens. Spore-forming Bacillus strains are often favored for use in animal feed due to their ability to withstand harsh conditions during pelleting and survive the hostile conditions of the upper GIT.
The synergistic benefits of enzymes and probiotics have shown great promise in helping producers realize nutrition and performance improvements, while also limiting the impact of NE.