Priming the poultry gut to deal with stressors

Research sheds light on how nutritional interventions can modulate gene expression of a key pathway in the poultry gut to increase the bird’s capacity to cope with stressors.

Stress-related decreases in productive and reproductive performance of poultry cause substantial economic losses. In poultry the gut is highly responsive to stressors from the feed and the environment. Under commercial conditions, birds are exposed to a variety of nutritional and environmental stressors. This will lead to stress reactions such as oxidative stress, inflammatory responses and reduced gut integrity on the cellular and gut level, which will increase maintenance energy requirements.

On top of that stressors may negatively affect feed intake, such that altogether performance and efficiency in birds can drop significantly. In laying hens oxidative stress can also accelerate the aging process of the ovaries and impair liver function, which can affect laying persistence and egg quality at the later stages of the laying cycle.

Methods developed to improve the measurement of the underlying mechanisms via molecular markers can lead to a better understanding of how the reactions can be manipulated to reduce the impact on bird performance.

Improving the adaptive ability of birds

By improving the adaptive ability of animals to stressors it is possible to substantially decrease negative consequences of various stresses in poultry production. Researchers consider changes in gene expression to be of great importance for adaptation to stressors, and hence key to the development of techniques for managing stress reactions in the animal. Certain molecular pathways responsible for the transcription of genes for enzymes involved in the protection from the effects of stressors on the cellular level play a vital role in the adaptive ability of birds. A better understanding of these pathways and the development of ways to track and measure changes in their key indicators is paving the way to support them by nutritional means for greater resilience in birds. Certain bioactive components derived from plants are promising candidates for nutritional solutions, because they also play key roles in similar pathways in plants to enhance the plant’s ability to cope with stressors threatening its survival.

Underlying mechanisms to adaptive capacity

Oxidative stress is one of the most common stress reactions on the cellular level in the animal. It is characterized by excess production of free radicals (ROS), which exceeds the ability of the bird’s antioxidant defence system to neutralise them.

In recent years great attention has been paid to the transcription factor Nrf2 and scientific data indicate that Nrf2 activation is one of the most important mechanism to prevent/decrease stress-related detrimental changes. Nrf2 is a transcription factor that responds to oxidative stress by binding to the antioxidant response element (ARE), which initiates the transcription of antioxidant enzymes.

These enzymes contribute to the improvement of the bird’s antioxidant defence system and reduce oxidative stress on the cellular level. They are also known to block Nf-kB resulting in protection against inflammation. However, when stress is too high, leading to a free radical concentration higher than the threshold for cells, other transcription factors including NF-kB become predominant, which increases inflammation. Research suggests, that the threshold could be increased by nutritional means making the pathway more robust under stress and reducing oxidative stress and inflammatory responses.

Recent evaluation of nutritional intervention

Research in broilers carried out by the Agricultural University of Athens, evaluated a gut agility activator as a new nutritional intervention to improve the adaptive capacity of birds for greater resilience to stressors. It contains a combination of bioactive substances derived from herbs and spices designed to reduce the negative impact of stressors on bird performance.

In this trial analyzing tissue samples from different segments of the bird’s gut was done to study the relative expression of genes related to antioxidative enzymes and inflammation. It was discovered that adding the gut agility activator to the diet up-regulated gene expression of antioxidative enzymes belonging to the NrF2/ARE pathway and down-regulated NF-kB1 expression. Additional analysis carried out in the same study demonstrated that this coincided with increased levels of total antioxidant capacity in the gut. However, the positive effect of the gut agility activator was dependent on the inclusion level and segment of the gut.

Commercial implications

New and powerful analytical methods are catalysing the progress in our understanding of the mechanics of action of certain feed additives. The current research findings suggest, that it is possible to boost the bird’s capacity to adapt efficiently to stressors, by adding a gut agility activator to the feed. In combination with performance data from commercial trials in the presence of stressors (such as heat, high production level and mycotoxins), there is evidence that the gut agility activator offers a solution to help reduce the impact of stressors on performance under commercial conditions.

Producers looking for a more consistent performance in response to their feeding programs or to sustain longer production cycles e.g. in the laying hen by natural means could benefit economically from this. However, this research alongside previous research also demonstrates the importance of testing and optimizing inclusion levels of active substances derived from herbs and spices, for them to be part of commercially viable solutions in cost-effective diets.

by Gwendolyn Jones, published in Poultry World, 2019

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2020 already – Anco is VIP guest at the New Year’s welcome in Vienna

This month we were invited by the Lower Austrian Federal Economic Chamber to their 2020 New Year’s Welcome as a VIP company for having received the Born Global Champion award in 2019. The event took place in the impressive Palais Niederösterreich in Vienna. We were excited to meet other prize winning and successful Austrian companies at the event and to be given a traditional token of luck for the New Year by the Austrian chimney sweepers. 2020 definitely will be a good year now.

Some of the cornerstone initiatives that were highlighted for the success of the Austrian business economy included innovative apprenticeship schemes and those supporting a cleaner environment, such as innovations for renewable energies.

The event also reminded us that we are already at the beginning of the 5th year of Anco being in business. As they say, time flies when you are having a good time. We have come a long way since the beginning of an idea. Last year in April we were awarded for Born Global Champion, which already marked many budding business relationships and partnerships on a global level. Fast forwarding 9 months on from that we can say that what was budding before has really started to blossom and new Anco buds appeared on the global map.

We would like to thank everybody that has supported us to get where we are today and hope that over the coming years of the new decade, we can celebrate new milestones, enjoy our current friendships and build new ones around the world.

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IPPE 2020 – Visit the Anco booth for resilience in the new decade

Another year, another IPPE in Atlanta. However, what’s new is that IPPE 2020 is at the start of a new decade. Speak to the Anco team at booth A237 to find out how you can support your poultry production system for a more resilient decade.

The poultry industry is facing sweeping changes in climate, demographics, technology, markets and regulations. In the new decade change is most likely to happen even more frequently and faster. One of the big questions for the 2020s certainly will be how poultry producers can keep up and adapt to the rapid pace of change.

Developing greater resilience of a poultry production system to cope with challenges and change starts with the resilience of birds. Improved resilience in birds can be achieved through new breeding goals, but also by management and nutritional means.

More resilient birds will certainly be beneficial for profitability in the face of having to adapt to a hotter climate, a lack of qualified labour and a requirement to reduce the use of antibiotic growth promotors. For egg producers it can also help to facilitate longer laying periods to reduce production costs and environmental impact of the production system.

Come and see the Anco team and learn about how to keep your birds agile for greater resilience.

Where to find us

The Anco team will be present at the IPPE 2020 in Hall A booth 237. We look forward to welcoming you and learn about what matters most to you in the 2020s.
Link to IPPE floor plan

Podcast episode to listen to while you travel

We also have just the right Keep agile Keep farming podcast episode for you to listen to on your way to the IPPE. Podcast episode – 2020s challenges shaping global animal production

About Anco FIT Poultry

The gut agility concept of Anco FIT Poultry increases the ability to adapt to nutritional and environmental stressors more efficiently. As a result, birds are more resilient in the face of stressors and the impact of stressors on performance is reduced.

Poultry producers are applying Anco FIT Poultry to chicken feed to stay competitive when reducing the use of antibiotic growth promotors and to increase consistency and persistency in high performing birds.

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Thailand –Protech Animal Health seminar for egg producers

Egg producers in Thailand were interested to learn about the benefits of increasing resilience in laying hens with the gut agility activator Anco FIT Poultry. A seminar organized by Protech Animal Health co. ltd, Anco distributor in Thailand, was well attended.

Dr. Sasitorn Tungkanasing, product manager at Betagro comments: “We were happy to see such great interest in the gut agility concept from Anco. It gives us confidence for our plans in 2020. We are now following up with the leads from this event and looking forward to be a source of help to them to support laying persistence for more profitable egg production.”

The event included a presentation from Professor Dr. Theerawit Poeikhampam, Faculty of Agriculture Kasetsart University on Management and feeding techniques for laying hens in the summer season.

Michael Eder, managing director at Anco, introduced the science behind Anco FIT Poultry and practical experience with applying the product to laying hen diets. The data in his presentation demonstrated how Anco FIT Poultry can benefit laying hens in the critical early laying period and can help to sustain higher egg production in the later stages of egg production.

Thailand is the third biggest producer of hen and duck eggs in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia and Malaysia. Thai consumers prefer brown eggs, so brown laying hen breeds are predominantly used as the breed of choice for commercial egg production in Thailand.

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