The way animals respond to nutritional stressors affects feed efficiency. Gut agility increases the resistance to stressors and reduces stress reactions in the animal in favour of saving metabolic energy for animal performance and supporting feed efficiency.
Stress reactions reduce efficiency
When challenged with nutritional stress factors, stress reactions such as oxidative stress, reduced gut integrity, inflammation and shifts in gut microflora will be triggered in the animal. This not only reduces growth performance, but also feed efficiency and thus the cost-effectiveness of diets. Feed efficiency is reduced due to energy wasted on stress reactions instead of being used for productive purposes. For instance, under oxidative stress and inflammation, 30% of the performance drop is explained by the catabolism and feed conversion needed to manage inflammation.
Optimizing the response by nutritional means
Ideally the response to nutritional stress factors should consume as little energy as possible or stress reactions should be minimal for better and more consistent feed efficiency. This would be the case if animals were inherently more resistant to nutritional stress factors or were able to adapt to nutritional stressors more energy efficiently.
Defense systems in the body that prevent damages caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS) during exposure to infections, inflammation, and stressors are called antioxidant defense systems. Antioxidant defense systems prevent lipid peroxidation by blocking peroxidation chain reactions and acting as ROS scavengers. However, if the endogenous system is overwhelmed by stressors it will trigger oxidative stress.
There are ways to enhance the resistance in animals to stressors by nutritional means. For instance, adding anti-oxidant substances to the diet that either scavenge ROS or upregulate and protect endogenous antioxidant defenses has shown to enhance ROS detoxifying capacity of the animal thus reducing oxidative stress in response to stressors.
Several bioactive substances derived from herbs and spices have also shown to have high anti-inflammatory properties. Others are known for their ability to help maintain gut integrity and sustain a healthy gut microflora through improved digestion of protein. So, there is scope for nutritional means to optimize the response of animals to nutritional stressors and thus manage the consistency in cost-effectiveness of pig and poultry diets.
Feeding for gut agility
The gut is particularly responsive to stressors, hence why the emphasis is on the gut when improving the animal’s adaptive response. Gut agility is a new term coined to describe the animal’s ability to adapt to nutritional stressors in a faster and more energy-efficient response than it normally would.
Agile nutritional concepts are designed to boost gut agility and empower animals to adapt to a variety of nutritional stress factors, including mycotoxins, making them more robust and energy efficient. They rely on bioactive substances derived from plants that reduce negative stress reactions, such as oxidative stress, inflammation, reduced gut integrity and reduced feed intake generally seen in response to stressors.
The animal becomes more robust in the face of dietary challenges, resulting in more consistent high performance and well-being. This again will contribute to consistency in the cost-effectiveness of diets under commercial conditions.
Feed additives designed to activate gut agility
Find more information in the links below
Anco FIT Poultry – Managing gut agility for cost-effective poultry diets
Anco FIT – Managing gut agility for cost-effective pig diets