Butyrate is a molecule with high potential for humans and animals. In this first article of three, we explain what butyrate is and give three solid reasons why it is a crucial element in pig and poultry diets.
Butyric acid is a short-chain fatty acid that is naturally produced in the hindgut of monogastrics and the rumen of ruminants. It has the potential to trigger several beneficial effects in the digestive tract of humans and animals.
In humans, butyrate has been studied as a tool in the prevention and treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases and colon cancer. In animal production, butyrate is added to the feed to improve the digestive tract development and maintenance, which is crucial to prevent disturbances linked to the challenges faced by the animals. This purpose of prevention makes it a perfect fit in today’s approach to animal production and diet formulation.
Butyric acid itself is a volatile and corrosive liquid, with a very pungent smell and is therefore very rarely applied in animal feed in this form. This is one of the reasons why derivatives of butyric acids are used, most commonly salts (coated butyrates) and glycerides (butyrins). Innovations made over the years in coated butyrate products have increased precision delivery of the molecule, enhanced product stability and reduced odor associated with the product.
Here are 3 reasons why the momentum is right to start using butyrate:
A healthy gastrointestinal system (gut) is important for animals to achieve their maximum production potential, to increase feed efficiency and prevent intestinal infections and disease. And this is especially important for young animals, where the digestive tract is immature and not all feed ingredients can be digested well.
Butyrate promotes gut health in different ways, such as:
A strong immune system in farm animals is important to prevent diseases (and antibiotic use), animal welfare and to reach the animal’s full genetic potential. The gut is an organ that has the most immune cells in the body (approximately 70%) and is part of the first line of active defense against pathogens.
Butyrate promotes the immune system in different ways, such as:
Worldwide there is increased consumer and governmental focus on food safety. The European Union for example has set clear targets to combat Salmonella. Strict regulations have been implemented, which have brought added costs to control and monitoring programs for animal production.
Livestock producers are trying to control Salmonella load on-farm in order to reduce (cross-) contamination in slaughterhouses, thereby decreasing the risk to humans. Besides biosecurity measures and vaccination programs, producers are using feed additives as part of a holistic control program.
Butyrate helps to control Salmonella in different ways, such as:
The focus on and research around gut health in farm animals has accelerated in the last few years, due to stricter regulation on antibiotic use and the ban on therapeutic levels of zinc oxide in swine diets amongst others. Butyrate has the capacity to positively trigger different mechanisms in the gut of monogastrics. A healthy gut – in turn – is a prerequisite to improvements in growth, performance, feed efficiency and animal health.