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Gutpower Achieving a healthy gut for top broiler performance

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

Good gut health is a pre-requisite to good bird performance. As the growth period is progressively shortened and feed efficiency continuously improved, the health and nutrition of the bird are becoming more demanding. Health of the gastrointestinal tract is an issue which is especially important for young birds.

There are several possibilities to influence gut health. Butyric acid is known to be a very efficacious feed additive for this purpose.

Protection of acids

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

Another reason for protection is to obtain gastric 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, however butyric acid content in well encapsulated products can be only relatively low as high amount of fat is needed for a proper protection. The most beneficial protection is in the form of glycerides which is a chemical compound of acids and glycerol. The advantage of this protection is that the product contains a high amount of active ingredient - about 78%. The glycerol acid compound is not influenced by the pH of the stomach; therefore these compounds reach the small intestine, where the gradual release of the undissociated acids through the action of lipases takes place.

It is known that protected butyric acid is an excellent growth promoter as it is an efficient nutrient for the intestinal mucosa. It leads to an increase in the density and length of the villi, enlarging the absorptive surface of the intestine. Literature describes the positive effects of butyric acid on breeder and layer production performance and on egg shell quality. Butyric acid is also known as an antibacterial agent against pathogenic micro-organisms including salmonella, clostridia, Escherichia coli etc and as a modulator of the intestinal flora supporting beneficial micro-organisms such as lactobacilli. Butyric acid enhances the reparation of gut wall lesions caused by intestinal diseases and nutritional imbalances. Moreover, butyrate stimulates gastric secretion, thereby improving protein and fat digestibility.

Effect of butyric acid glycerides on metabolizable energy

A trial was carried out by Dr. S. Leeson, Department of Animal & Poultry Science, University of Guelph, Canada.

One hundred and twenty-eight one-day old commercial male broiler chicks were assigned to two crumble diets, designated as a control and a trial group. The trial group received a mixture of mono-, di-, and triglycerides of butyric acid, at the level of 0.2%. Each treatment consisted of 8 replicated cages with 8 chicks each. Chicks were housed in an electrically heated brooder for the first 18 days. At day 18, 3 chicks from each cage were moved to grower cages.

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