The intestinal integrity of production animals, also referred to as the intestinal barrier function, is one of the three gears to ensuring the all-over health of an animal’s intestines, and ultimately its health in general.
The intestine is constantly exposed and challenged by a large population (101 bacteria) of bacteria that make up the intestinal microbiota. The intestinal wall forms a physical barrier keeping the intestinal microbiota in the intestinal lumen and out of the animal’s body, while still allowing for the absorption of nutrients into the body. This barrier is made up by a single layer of cells called intestinal enterocytes. Intestinal enterocytes are bound together by transmembrane proteins, called intestinal tight junction proteins. These tight junction proteins prevent the translocation of toxins and bacteria across the intestinal epithelium. Nutrients move across the intestinal epithelium into the enterocytes and are absorbed.
A mucous layer that lines the intestinal epithelium further protects the intestinal barrier.
The modern production of livestock can expose production animals to a number of risks that negatively influence the integrity of the intestinal barrier:
An animal’s well-being and production is therefore heavily reliant on the integrity of the intestinal wall (intestinal barrier) as any disruption of the intestinal barrier will result in losses of animal production and efficiency.
Butyric acid is a fatty acid naturally produced in the large intestine (caecum and colon) of monogastric animals. It is produced by the intestinal microbiome from the fermentation of dietary fibres.
Up to 70% of the energy requirements of the intestinal enterocytes (the single layer cells that make up the intestinal barrier) is derived from the metabolism of butyric acid, which is directly absorbed from the intestinal lumen.
Disruptions in the intestinal barrier (decreased integrity) can lead to the development of “Leaky Gut Syndrome” and result in a decrease in animals’ performance and high economic losses.
Improving the intestinal integrity of a production animal forms part of Kemin’s three-geared holistic approach to ensuring the intestinal health of production animals. The health of intestinal microbiota and intestinal immunity make up the other two fundamental gears.
In order to achieve all-over intestinal health (and continued intestinal health) each of these three gears need to work together.
In strengthening the intestinal barrier function, Kemin offers ButiPEARL™, an encapsulated calcium butyrate.