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Nutritional strategies to support intestinal health in poultry by Leopold Jungbauer & Jan Dirk van der Klis, Delacon Biotechnik GmbH, Steyregg, Austria


he rising global human population and the improving general human welfare standards comes with an increasing demand for animal proteins. According to an outlook report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the poultry meat production will grow over the next 10 years at around 2.3 percent annually to around 134.5 million tonnes of meat making it the largest meat sector from 2020 onwards. The major part of this growth will be realised in (sub)tropical regions. Therefore, optimum production performance of birds is crucial under a wide variety of climatic and management conditions. Under all circumstances, good intestinal health is a prerequisite, which is challenged by the worldwide tendency for antibiotic-free poultry production. Moreover, continuous selection for improved growth rate and feed efficiency has a potential negative impact on adaptive immunity, metabolic diseases and heat tolerance. Optimised bird management and nutrition can help to safeguard intestinal health and increase the disease resilience of birds. This article reviews several nutritional strategies including application of phytogenic feed additives to support intestinal health in poultry.

Intestinal disorders in poultry and their economic impact

Poultry has to face many intestinal health threats. Intestinal health problems can be of nutritional, managerial or pathogenic origin. An overfeeding of protein, or minerals (calcium, sodium, potassium) leads to diuresis (excessive urination), characterised by excessive clear fluids in droppings, resulting in wet litter. High levels of anti-nutritional factors like phytic acid, trypsin inhibitors, mycotoxins or some non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs) increase the loss of endogenous fluid, due to impaired intestinal barrier function, so-called physiological diarrhoea. Last but not least, an imbalance in intestinal microbiota (bacteria, protozoa and viruses) can impair intestinal health. Such an imbalance can be initiated by the aforementioned nutritional factors. Coccidiosis remains one of the most universal and major concerns in meat producing poultry and is the most prevalent disease affecting the industry. Williams (1999) estimated that 81

Table 1. Effects of nutritional strategies on the intestinal disease challenges in broiler chickens (Van der Klis, 2014) Measure increased particle size

improved gizzard function and intestinal (anti)peristalsis

changing energy delivering nutrients (carbohydrates for fat)

better energy absorption, fat digestion being more readily affected in case of intestinal disorders

change fatty acid composition (medium chain fatty acids) (increased level of unsaturated fatty acids)

MCFA with antibacterial effects unsaturated fatty acids are less dependent on emulsification

reduce (fermentable) protein content, maintaining amino acid supply increased dietary inert fibre level

58 | July 2016 - Milling and Grain


reduce proteolytic bacteria and their fermentation products reduce C. perfringens counts improve gizzard function and intestinal (anti)peristalsis improved amylase secretion improved bile acid secretion

JUL 2016 - Milling and Grain magazine  
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