Special Edition: Gut Health

Cargill aiming to model the effect of antibiotics

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/phototechno
© iStock/phototechno

Related tags: Cargill animal nutrition, Bacteria

What is the current strategy of Cargill Animal Nutrition (CAN) in terms of boosting animal immune development, disease resistance and performance?

We caught up with Jean de Oliveira, global research scientist at CAN, who is based in the company's innovation center in Vilvoorde, Belgium, and Vernon McIntosh, global research and development manager at CAN in the US, to find out:

FeedNavigator:​ How have insights that the Cargill team has gleaned around how antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) work influenced R&D efforts in optimizing gut health in mongastrics, ruminants and fish?

CAN:Cargill’s animal nutrition business has learned AGPs have modes of action other than working simply as anti-microbial agents. As a result, we took a more comprehensive approach. Our strategy is to look at AGP effects from several different angles: microbial, immune, gut integrity and function, and metabolic. We then identify biomarkers that can be used to describe, evaluate and model the effect of antibiotics. At this moment, we are modeling the effects in poultry and applying the learnings in pigs before expanding to other animal species.

FeedNavigator:​ What has Cargill learned about how nutrition impacts the microbiome in livestock?

CAN:Historically, we evaluated our feed ingredients based on their effects on animal performance but now we are also able to index them based on their effect on microbial profile. The microbial profile allow us to differentiate mechanisms involved in the effect we see when feeding different ingredients, as well as identifying early signs of dysbacteriosis and food safety risks.

Implications include finding new markets for ingredients, selecting new ingredients, and making better decisions on how to use them thanks to this new formulation method. It can even revolutionize the way we formulate animal feed - and we go as far to say the practical application of this approach is much closer than most people expect.

FeedNavigator:​ What is the link between microbiome and immunity in pigs, poultry or cows?

CAN:The [study of] beneficial microbiome [would] suggest a link between the maturity of the immune system and the ability to reduce the load of pathogenic bacteria in the gut. It is still too early to say we understand these dynamics but Cargill Animal Nutrition is working with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Utrecht University and the Laboratory of Microbiology of Wageningen University on a four year Dutch grant to study the optimal constitution of broiler chicken microbiome, and its relationship to immune development, disease resistance and performance.

FeedNavigator:​ Can you provide some insights into dietary changes made by Cargill for customers as they migrate away from AGPs?

CAN:Potential dietary changes are in [included in the] scope of our current effort and we are working with key customers that agreed to participate in this evaluation.

FeedNavigator:​ What technology is Cargill leveraging in its gut health work?

CAN:Our gut health platform combines three major components. First, we have analytics based on machine learning/artificial intelligence. Second, we have a customized molecular biology tool for routine microbial profiling based on nucleic acid analysis. Third, we have developed a data management system to allow us to incorporate new kinds of data with our global animal performance database and the Cargill Nutrition System (CNS).

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