Feeding for resiliency against pathogens

Monday, June 8, 2020

Feeding for resiliency against pathogens

Sangita Jalukar, Ph.D., PAS, technical services manager, Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production


Disease-causing pathogens are among a multitude of challenges that livestock and poultry producers must overcome in order to achieve efficient growth and optimal productivity. It's virtually impossible to eliminate pathogens from the environment. But managers do have the opportunity to make animals and birds more resilient against the harmful effects of these pathogens.
Due to changing consumer preferences and government regulations, many livestock and poultry producers are seeking to limit or eliminate use of antibiotics. Feed-based solutions can help build resiliency and protect livestock productivity and well-being, while also addressing preferences for poultry, pork, milk and eggs produced without antibiotics.
Building resilient animals and birds
The key to building animal resiliency is understanding the role of the gut in immune function.
The gut is the primary point of attack from invading gastrointestinal pathogens such as E. coli or Salmonella. Although each pathogen's effect on the animal is different, once ingested they have a single target—the gut lining. When gut immunity falters, animals become more susceptible to a wide range of diseases.
Since the gut is the first line of defense against many diseases, it's clear why maintaining a healthy gut makes animals more resilient against pathogen challenges. A properly functioning gut allows for proper feed digestion and nutrient absorption and prevents the energy drain caused by unnecessary immune responses, so animals can maintain health and performance.
Swine and poultry producers have an opportunity to provide real-time protection and reduce the risk of disease-causing pathogens and toxins entering the animal's system. By managing these challenges proactively and effectively in the gut, producers may be able to enhance animal health and performance and reduce the need for antibiotic treatments.
Feeding for resiliency
Scientists and producers have become more interested in utilizing feed strategies to enhance gut health for better immune response. Certain feed additives help maintain a healthy gut by managing the natural microbial populations and immune response in the digestive system. These dietary ingredients can prepare animals' immune systems ahead of pathogen challenges, so the animal can respond more effectively and maintain optimal health and performance.
Multiple research studies demonstrate that feeding the Refined Functional Carbohydrates™ (RFCs™) found in CELMANAX™ can help provide a healthy base for animal growth and development, leading to improved animal productivity. RFCs work by supporting the beneficial bacteria found in the intestine while blocking sites for attachment by certain pathogens.1,2
RFCs are the components harvested from yeast cells (S. cerevisiae) using specific enzymes during a proprietary manufacturing process. Components of RFCs have specific modes of action to support the immune system, including:
    •  Supporting consistent growth of beneficial bacteria

    •  Protecting intestinal cells

    •  Binding pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella

    •  Preventing certain protozoa from attaching to the intestinal wall and causing disease
Resiliency leads to performance
Research shows that supplementing diets with RFCs can make poultry more resilient under stressful conditions, leading to better feed efficiency and improved performance.
In a commercial layer trial3 involving four houses with 60,000 to 90,000 hens per house, feeding RFCs reduced mortality, increased egg production per hen housed and increased case weight. Treatment with RFCs also reduced the prevalence of Salmonella at 16 weeks and 45 weeks. (Tables 1 and 2.)
Table 1.  Production Summary for Flocks at 45 Weeks of Age
Table 2.  Salmonella Prevalence (%)
A research study with broiler diets showed that supplementation with RFCs effectively enhanced bird performance, improving weight gain and feed conversion, leading to more uniform bird size and weight at slaughter.
A study with 1,600-day-old chicks4 demonstrated the benefit of RFCs on performance of birds raised under standard coccidiosis management programs. Adding RFCs to diets improved performance of birds vaccinated for coccidiosis as well as those fed a coccidiostat. (Figure 1.)
Supporting resiliency in piglets
Feeding RFCs also supports animal resiliency in swine production facilities. Weaning is a time when young pigs are particularly vulnerable to disease-causing pathogens. Supporting gut function during this stressful time can support immunity to help maintain piglet health and performance.
To understand how RFCs impact piglet resiliency, researchers studied performance, health and immune response in young pigs faced with a simulated immune challenge.5
Piglets were assigned either a control diet or one of two RFC treatment diets for four weeks.
After the four-week feeding period, test piglets were injected with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) at the rate of 50 µg/kg. LPS is found within the cell walls of gram-negative bacteria. This component stimulates the release of inflammatory cytokines, leading to an acute inflammatory response. Control piglets received a saline solution injection.
A post-challenge health evaluation showed that piglets supplemented with RFCs had lower temperature and respiratory rate during the first four hours after LPS injection, indicating a positive effect on immune function. This response suggests that RFCs may benefit weaned pigs subjected to immune challenges that are common in the face of disease-causing pathogens during the early weaning period.
Dairy herd resiliency
Dairy animals also are vulnerable to a host of stresses and pathogens that can overcome the immune system, especially early in life and during transition following calving.
A study on two commercial U.S. farms6 compared health and performance of milk-fed Holstein calves supplemented with RFCs. Researchers studied overall health, fecal pathogen shedding and average daily gain of 319 three-day-old calves in individual housing for days one through six, and group pens with automatic feeders until day 56.
Calves fed RFCs had lower probability of developing severe diarrhea and had less shedding of Salmonella and rotavirus pathogens. Improved gut health led to improved growth and performance, with calves fed RFCs recording 2.1 kg higher body weights at the end of the trial compared with controls without RFC supplementation.
The importance of supporting immunity continues throughout a dairy animal's life, especially the critical transition period. A poorly functioning immune system allows opportunistic pathogens to colonize and cause disease.7 Feeding RFCs helps support and enhance the cow's immune system during transition and beyond.
In conclusion, feeding strategies can make animals more resilient to pathogenic bacteria and other challenges. Feeding RFCs can help create optimal immunity through every bite of feed, decreasing dependence on antibiotics or other interventions to support productivity. For more information visit AHfoodchain.com

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Article made possible through the contribution of Sangita Jalukar and Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production