“Mens sana in corpore sano” is Latin for “a healthy mind in a healthy body”. In animal nutrition, this quote could be adapted to read “A healthy body through a healthy gut”.
The work of the intestinal tract far exceeds that of mere digestion and ingestion of nutrients, encompassing wide ranging exocrine, endocrine and immunological functions. Because of the importance of these functions, a healthy gut is an important cornerstone for the health and performance of farm animals.
The gut health of farm animals is directly related to the microbial balance of the intestinal flora. In the first few days after birth, the right balance of beneficial microorganisms has to be established as quickly as possible and subsequently sustained over the entire life-span of the animal. Pathogenic germs of the genera Escherichia, Clostridia, Lawsonia, Brachyspira and Salmonella represent threats to the gut health of animals at the early stages of growth, as well as during critical phases that require changes in feed intake and composition.
One of the key criteria of modern animal nutrition is the maintenance of a healthy and stable intestinal flora and gut mucosa integrity, alongside an optimal nutrient programme. This is the challenge in animal nutrition which necessitates the growing need for functional feed additives that support gut health through various modes of action.