Functional amino acid supplementation may improve gut health in piglets and broilers

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/NeilyImagery
© GettyImages/NeilyImagery

Related tags weaning Gut health piglet Amino acids coccidiosis

A low dose of functional amino acid combinations can improve performance and gut health parameters in monogastrics, namely in piglets at weaning, coccidiosis challenged birds, heard attendees at EAAP’s 2nd Amino Acid Academy in Paris last month.

Tristan Chalvon-Demersay, innovation and new products manager at French amino acids (AA) producer, METEX NØØVISTAGO, spoke about the impact of functional AA-based solutions on animal health and performance.

The pig and poultry industries, according to the executive, now have two tools available to them to support gut health.

One is a reduction in the level of crude protein (CP) in the diet, which reduces the excess of nitrogen that is absorbed, the level of excess nitrogen that can reach the hindgut, the second tool is functional amino acid supplementation to preserve and improve gut health in piglets and chickens.

In combining synergistic, functional AAs, the result is higher efficiency and reproducibility, enabling a reduction in the amount of AAs required in the formulation; such a gut health strategy supports production that is moving away from zinc oxide, (ZnO), antibiotics and anticoccidial drugs, he continued.

The AA journey

AAs like lysine have been used since the 1970s to reduce the use of soybean meal (SBM) in feed formulations, to decrease feed costs. “Then, in the 90s and in the early 2000s, thanks to the use of new AAs such as tryptophan, threonine, and valine, we were able to further decrease the CP level in the diet and to enhance the beneficial effect of the strategy on environment and health,”​ noted Chalvon-Demersay,

Today, METEX NØØVISTAGO is focused on tailored solutions – branded as NOOV-CS -  that take into account the customer’s production context, he said.

“AA are the most versatile nutrients; based on the challenged faced by the animal, AAs can be orientated towards growth or health.”

The company currently has 10 AAs in its portfolio. “And in the past few years, we have been developing our knowledge of AA functions,”​ he added.

Functional AAs are those that regulate key metabolic pathways to improve health, survival, growth, development, lactation, and reproduction of organisms; this is the exploitation of AAs beyond their use as protein building blocks, he explained.

Four pillars of gut health

AA supplementation strategies, based on their roles as precursors of energy and functional molecules, as signaling molecules and as microbiota modulators can support or restore the “four different pillars”​ of gut health: epithelial barrier and digestion, immune fitness, microbiota balance and oxidative stress homeostasis, said the executive.

He also highlighted how the AA intake needed to sustain optimal functionality can differ from the requirements for growth.  

Addressing critical monogastric production challenges

The company’s development program, based on functional AAs, aims to first identify and understand the production challenge, the next step involves the identification of the beneficial AA, and the final stage sees the company engaging in in-vivo​ proof of concept trials.

Developing a functional AA mix to address weaning challenges in piglets, METEX NØØVISTAGO, relying on tools such as transcriptomic analysis to examine gene expression, pre and post-weaning, determined that a mix of branched-chain AAs, and arginine, glutamine, and cystine could be beneficial in terms of promoting gut health in piglets stressed from early weaning.

In relation to the company’s research, with partners, on coccidiosis challenged birds, it saw that a combination of arginine, threonine, and glutamine, could mitigate the impact of the disease in broilers.

The company has also collated data on how functional AAs can address heat stress in broilers, added Chalvon-Demersay.

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