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ICYMI at the 2023 Intestinal Health Symposium


If you missed the 2023 Kemin Intestinal Health Symposium, or if you want to revisit any of the expert presentations, you’re in the right place! Here you’ll find a brief synopsis of each presentation with links to each of them to hear the latest firsthand from experts across industries: poultry, swine, dairy, beef, and equine.

Poultry Drinking Water: Importance of Quality and Quantity

“The biggest thing I’ve learned about water is not so much that the nutrients that it carries have a huge impact, but rather that water is the perfect vector for so many pathogenic challenges.”

—Dr. Susan Watkins: Professor, University of Arkansas, Center for Excellence for Poultry Science

In her presentation, Dr. Susan Watkins emphasizes the critical role of water quality in animal production. She highlights that improving water quality can lead to significant feed conversion rate improvements, along with other performance metrics. Dr. Watkins also stresses the importance of understanding regional water quality issues, as different areas may have unique challenges. She discusses key practices for managing biofilm and maintaining water quality, including regular flushing and line cleaning. Dr. Watkins encourages production managers to prioritize water quality in their operations, underscoring its impact on animal performance. Overall, her insights emphasize the need for proactive water quality management in the industry.


Gut-Microbiota Interactions in Early Life of Pigs and Chickens

“With dietary strategies, we can modulate a microbiota, and then also have an effect on gut physiology.”

—Dr. Nadia Everaert: Associate Professor, KU Leuven

Dr. Nadia Everaert delves into the critical factors influencing gut health and microbiota in young livestock and poultry. She highlights the impact of gut segment and age on microbiota composition, underscoring their role in digestion and overall health. She discusses how the intricate interaction between microbiota and the host's immune system is shown to affect disease resistance and growth. Dr. Everaert’s presentation emphasizes the potential of dietary strategies to shape microbiota, subsequently influencing gut physiology. She discusses key distinctions between chickens and mammals in microbiota development, how factors like passive immunity and immune system balance are central to maintaining gut homeostasis, and early-life interventions that can significantly enhance gut health and immunity.


The Immune System, Disease Resistance, and Performance in Production Animals

“If we understand the immune system, we understand what makes it effective at preventing or responding to disease and we understand how to maintain productivity.”

—Dr. Ryan Arsenault: Associate Professor, University of Delaware, Department of Animal and Food Science

In his presentation, Dr. Ryan Arsenault highlights the critical relationship between an animal's immune system and its microbiome. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the immune system's transition from innate to adaptive responses and how nutrition plays a pivotal role in shaping the immune function. Dr. Arsenault stresses the need for strategic interventions tailored to specific challenges and a balanced metabolic pathway in animals. His presentation showcases the complexity and significance of the immune system-microbiome interaction in productive and resilient animals. He believes that we can approach the ideal microbiome composition by studying and learning from nature.


Inflammation: An Unlikely Antagonist

“The problem with inflammation is not how often it starts, but rather how often it fails to subside.”

—Dr. Jessica Leatherwood: Associate Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator, Tarleton State University

Dr. Jessica Leatherwood delves into equine health, emphasizing the longevity challenges young performance horses face due to training and dietary factors that lead to increased inflammation. She explains that inflammation is a problem beyond the joints. It also affects gut health and permeability, which can lead to more challenges with immunity and disease. The prospect of using dietary strategies for inflammation prevention is a focal point, considering the detrimental effects of inflammation on conditions like osteoarthritis and metabolic arthritis in overfed horses. Dr. Leatherwood explains that understanding the physiological relevance of systemic cytokines remains a critical task in equine health, emphasizing the need for further research in this field.


The Impact of Consumer Value Considerations on Protein

“9 out of 10 consumers want to know about the products that they are purchasing. And they want the manufacturer or supplier to be able to provide them with the answers to the questions that they want, and they want the retailer to be able to connect them with that information.”

—David Fikes: Executive Director, The Food Industry Association

In his presentation, David Fikes explores key insights that highlight the importance of transparency in the food industry, specifically in terms of animal welfare. Consumers value access to information about how products are produced and the values of the companies behind them. It’s crucial to provide clear, understandable information and certifications to meet their demands. Watch Fikes’ presentation to learn how transparency fosters consumer trust and engagement and offers significant opportunities for companies to share their stories and practices to meet consumer expectations.


The Road to Better Animal Welfare and Its Future Impact

“Animal welfare is truly the foundation of the sustainable enterprise. And by sustainable, I mean the health of your business long term. Because we know that animal welfare is absolutely critical to quality and food safety.”

—Dr. Jennifer Walker: Founder & Chief Animal Welfare Officer, Kinder Ground

In her presentation, Dr. Jennifer Walker explains key insights centered on improving animal welfare in the agricultural industry. She emphasizes the need to shift from profit-driven, short-term strategies to a long-term, proactive approach. She stresses the importance of "boots on the ground" and argues that audits alone don't enhance welfare; people do. Additionally, she explains that it’s crucial to embed animal welfare within the culture of the company and invest in farm-level improvements. Ultimately, Dr. Walker’s message encourages a collective commitment to enhancing animal welfare, fostering a culture of compassion, and striving for continuous improvement.


Panel Discussion: Cross-Species Sustainability Perspectives

Our panel of experts includes:

·       Dr. Jennifer Walker, Founder & Chief Animal Welfare Officer at Kinder Ground

·       Tom McDonald, Vice President of Environmental Affairs at Five Rivers Cattle Feeding, LLC.

·       Dr. Tanika O’Connor Dennie, Managing Director at Farm and Animal Nutrition Solutions LTD.

The panel’s key insights centered around improving sustainability in agriculture. They stress the importance of collaboration across industries to comprehensively measure energy use, water, and other environmental factors. They highlight the role of technology in enhancing sustainability. Additionally, they emphasize the significance of considering cultural knowledge and small-scale farmers. Watch the discussion to gain more of their insights.