Gut health beyond the rumen: Why the GI tract should be a core focus of your herd's health
The key to gut health? Think beyond the rumen.
The GI tract can have a profound effect on dairy cow health. Experts from Kemin share advice about what to do when it’s compromised.
The ruminant digestive system is as complex as it is important to beef and dairy production. Understanding how the gastrointestinal (GI) tract functions, how it contributes to overall ruminant health and what to do when it’s compromised are critical to the success of your herd. After all, a healthier GI tract helps improve performance, prevent leaky gut and mitigate stress — all of which lead to healthier cows and profits.
Understanding the GI tract
The function of the GI tract — primarily the villi in the small intestine — is to digest and absorb nutrients, defend against harmful pathogens, prevent harmful compounds from entering the host and maintain a balanced microbiome. Leaky gut occurs when a compromised GI tract lining allows harmful substances to be absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in a variety of health implications.
A healthy gut:
Breaks down nutrients for optimal absorption
Promotes and maintains immune system health
Maintains structural intestinal integrity
Preserves the balance of microflora
A damaged GI tract, also known as leaky gut, could result in:
An unbalanced microbiome, leading to a higher prevalence of enteric pathogens
Reduced digestive and absorptive capacity
Decreased intestinal integrity of the gut, allowing harmful pathogens and toxins to enter into the host, which can lead to both intestinal and systemic inflammation
A compromised immune system
Stressors impacting gut health in cattle
Just as exposure to pathogenic bacteria in the environment is inevitable, so are animal stress events. Under stress, both the mucosal layer and the tight junctions are negatively impacted, often leading to inflammation and reduced integrity of the intestinal barrier.1 Reduced intestinal integrity indicates there is a breakdown in the tight junctions between the epithelial cell membranes, allowing for intestinal permeability.
Without these tight junctions, pathogenic organisms like clostridia, Salmonella and Escherichia coli can cross the intestinal barrier and into the bloodstream, resulting in an immune response that makes cattle more susceptible to diseases that can reduce their performance and your profitability.2
All cows endure stressors daily, and some are unavoidable. To ensure your cattle are set up for optimal health and productivity, it’s important to identify which stressors you can alleviate, and which ones you need to mitigate with a direct-fed active microbial.
Choosing a microbial
Not all probiotic products are active microbials, and not all active microbials are the same. When evaluating active microbial solutions to fight against intestinal-compromising pathogenic bacteria, consider the following factors:
Proven mode(s) of action
Specificity against the disease-causing pathogens of interest
Controlled evaluation to document response benefits in the target host
Acid and bile stability
Maintenance of beneficial gut bacteria
Speed of growth within the gut
Suitability for use with other antimicrobials
Stability in pelleting conditions
Why mode of action matters
By now you know why gut health beyond the rumen is important, so why does the mode of action matter? By understanding how the active microbial works the ruminant digestive system, one can better predict how the host will respond to the product once it is fed. This helps create confidence in the product, as it has gone through the rigorous testing and research to prove the mode of action.
Targeting pathogens with precision
CLOSTAT® from Kemin contains a proprietary, patented strain of Bacillus subtilis PB6. Kemin selected B. subtilis PB6 — a unique, naturally-occurring and spore-forming probiotic — because it helps maintain the balance of microflora in the GI tract in an array of animals, including beef and dairy animals. What’s more, the B. subtilis PB6 in CLOSTAT has been shown to have multiple modes of action:
Get close to the action! Visit kemin.com/clostat-us for the science behind proven protection against pathogens.
June 30, 2022