Nowadays, tools to manage gut health in animal production are a "must have" and probiotics are a perfect fit for this category.
In short, probiotics are viable microorganisms with a multi-factorial mode of action which can support or change the existing microbiome resulting in health benefits to the host.
When choosing a probiotic, it is of utmost importance to understand the specific characteristics of the different segments of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). This includes understanding the microbiome at different locations and the specific characteristics of the probiotic strain(s) that interact directly or indirectly with existing microbial populations.
Taking the hindgut as an example, this distal part of the GIT is, in normal conditions, heavily populated with beneficial bacteria from the Clostridia IV and XIVa clusters. These bacteria have a direct impact on the immune system, gut health status and ultimately, the production efficiency of the animal due to their ability to produce several metabolites including butyrate.
Butyrate is an important short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) with multiple functions. It plays a key role in animal health and development, acting as a cellular mediator in several metabolic processes such as gut tissue development, oxidative stress reduction and immuno-modulation. Butyrate is also the major energy source for the colonocytes.
Despite the importance of butyrate, having sufficient quantities in the hindgut where it is needed most can be difficult, especially when the animal microbiota is challenged during production (by antibiotic treatments or by the proliferation of pathogens among innumerous other challenges and stress factors). During a challenge period, the butyric acid-producing bacteria can rapidly diminish, which will disrupt the metabolic processes that rely on butyrate.
The lack of butyrate will also create an indirect competitive advantage for multiple opportunistic pathogens. Recent published research has shown that the absence of butyrate can result in accelerated Salmonella proliferation.
Options to counteract butyrate deficiency
To rebalance the loss in microbial butyric acid production, in-feed supplementation of butyrate is common practice. However, recent research has shown that the majority of supplemented butyrate does not reach the distal segments of the GIT.
What if a unique probiotic strain could produce significant amounts of butyric acid, ensuring a butyrate source exactly where it is needed most? Huvepharma's probiotic product Miya-Gold®, a unique Clostridium butyricum strain, answers the question.
Firstly, the Miya-Gold® C. butyricum strain is a spore former. In its spore form (i.e., a metabolically inactive form), the bacteria can pass through the more hostile environment of the initial segments of the GIT without losing viability. Once the spore reaches a location with the right conditions, it germinates into active vegetative cells.
Secondly, the C. butyricum is an obligate anaerobe, meaning that it will only germinate when and where the oxygen concentrations are low enough. Since the concentration of oxygen decreases through the GIT, C. butyricum finds the best germination conditions in the hindgut.
Lastly, C. butyricum ferments the available substrate in the hindgut releasing significant amounts of butyric acid. The animal uses the locally produced butyric acid in its butyrate-dependent metabolic processes. Moreover, the proliferation of C. butyricum keeps the environmental conditions adverse, preventing the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella.
So, the best option to counteract butyrate deficiency is to supply it in the lower GIT where it is needed most, and that can be achieved using Miya-Gold®.
What about Salmonella control?
Huvepharma has conducted and supported numerous research and field trials to show and validate the added value of Miya-Gold® for efficient pig production.
Concerning Salmonella mitigation, an on-farm trial was recently conducted. The trial was set in a commercial pig fattening farm in Germany. The farm had a history of high Salmonella titers at slaughter, which had a significant negative impact on the meat price and overall profitability of the operation.
The trial compared three consecutive pig batches. The first batch had no probiotic, reflecting the actual status of the farm, and the following two batches proceeded with in-feed supplementation with Miya-Gold® (5 x 108 CFU/g). Piglets from all batches arrived on the fattening unit from the same origin farm. Between batches, the fattening unit was properly cleaned and disinfected.
The fattening period started with piglets of +/- 30 kg body weight and continued until slaughter in an all in/all out system. Prior to slaughter, blood samples were taken, and Salmonella titers determined.
The results, as summarised in Table 1, show once again that in-feed supplementation with Miya-Gold® mitigated Salmonella prevalence with an improvement in the farm Salmonella category from III to II, confirming its place and added value in a wider Salmonella control program.
A tool in the toolbox
Probiotics can be versatile tools to support efficient animal production systems. The key to their success is the correct identification of the challenge and the choice of probiotic. The probiotic must have the required characteristics to face the specific challenge.
Regarding Salmonella mitigation with the help of probiotics, Miya-Gold® takes the lead: it is active at the correct location and produces significant amounts of butyrate where it is needed for the direct use and benefit of the animal.
Miya-Gold® offers an efficient and safe tool to support a sustainable Salmonella control program, contributing effectively to a healthier gut and safer food chain, in a profitable way.