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Gutpower Achieving a healthy gut for a top broiler performance

by 5m Editor
30 April 2009, at 12:00am

Good gut health is a pre-requisite to good bird performance, be it in the breeder in rear or the broiler. This article is just as relevant for the breeder farm manager who is rearing breeders as it is for the hatchery manager who in many parts of the world is one of the key sources of technical information for his customers.

A newly hatched broiler chick increases its body weight by 25% overnight and by 5000% in a period of five weeks to 2kg body weight. This astonishing performance of the modern chicken comes from:
  • Intensive selection for growth rate.
  • Attention to health and husbandry.
  • Advances in feed formulation.
As the growth period is progressively shortened and feed efficiency continuously improved, the health care and nutrition of the bird are becoming more demanding.

Therefore, it is especially important to pay attention to the microscopic changes in the mucosal layer of the gut. These changes underpin the efficiency of nutrient assimilation because underneath the mucosa is a vast surface of epithelial cells of the absorptive type essential for the transport of nutrients into the enterocytes.

Health of the gastrointestinal tract is an issue which is especially important for the young birds. There are several possibilities to influence gut health. Butyric acid is known to be a very efficacious feed additive for this purpose.

There are several products on the market providing salts of butyric acid in protected and unprotected forms. Due to the unpleasant persistent odour of butyric acid, protection makes the handling of the product easier.


Fig. 1. Effect of butyric, caprylic and capric acids on weight development in poultry.

Protection of acids

Another reason for protection is to obtain stomach by-pass of butyric acid and subsequent release of the active substance in the small intestine. Encapsulation of acids is a known form of protection. There is also an innovative, beneficial protection in a form of glycerides which is the combination of acids and glycerol.

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