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Q2 Pork Newsletter

Novus International Green Acres Research Farm

Green Acres is a 95-acre multi-species, multi-functional research facility operated by Novus International, Inc.

A Healthy Gut Translates into Better Animal Performance

By Brad Lawrence, PhD
Swine Technical Services Manager, Novus International

Supplementing with a protease enzyme positively affects the overall gut health of an animal, leading to benefits beyond cost savings.

The pressure to efficiently and humanely produce food animal products continues to mount. Operations are hyper-focused on profitability while simultaneously adapting to an ever changing world regarding antibiotic use, environment impact, and animal welfare as well as addressing the needs of savvy consumers who are more interested than ever how their food is produced.

Gut health is one of the foundations for successful, economic animal production as well as animal well-being. Gut health affects well-being, since it affects the body beyond the digestive system; however, suboptimal gut health is often not recognized. Subclinical gastric disturbances are not always obvious to untrained eyes and can be missed in the early stages in group housing situations. If gut health challenges are left untreated, animal well-being, performance, and profitability suffer and can result in the challenge being spread throughout the group.

For example, in poultry, characteristic signs of gut health challenges are feces containing undigested feed and excess moisture. As a result, gut health challenges can be linked to other issues such as foot pad lesions, loss of pigmentation, and group performance variability.

In young pigs, a tell-tale sign is scours, or diarrhea. Some may assume that if a young pig has diarrhea, it’s caused by a common pathogen such as E. coli, salmonella, or rotavirus. However, other bacteria can and do cause many intestinal infections. For example, the problem could be osmotic diarrhea caused by indigestible protein – a problem in the gut.

One of the health and feeding challenges for weaned pigs is that they have an extremely high potential for growth. As a result, weaned pigs need protein-dense diets to support that growth. However, they have an immature gastrointestinal (GI) tract and an enzyme system that has a tough time digesting the high level of protein.

When excess or undigested dietary protein reaches the hindgut, it affects the intestinal pH and gut microflora populations, specifically bacteria such as E. coli, responsible for much of the post-weaning diarrhea. As a result of the excess protein and bacteria fermentation products, the body starts secreting water back into the gut in an effort to provide dilution as a solution. As a result, the stool becomes loose, an osmotic diarrhea.

Overcome challenges with a protease enzyme
Nutrition has a significant influence on gut health. Supplementing diets with protease enzymes is an important part of any gut health challenge solution. Protease enzymes are the newest family of enzymes to hit the market, and they work very differently from other classes of enzymes such as phytases. A protease enzyme helps make the indigestible portion of feed ingredients more available to the animal by degrading components so they are more easily absorbed into the digestive system. In addition, proteases can help degrade allergenic and antinutritional factors in important ingredients such a soybean meal. In the case of piglets, this reduces gut inflammation and the need for the increase in water secretion back into the GI tract.

A protease directly increases the digestibility of an amino acid. With more highly digestible amino acids flowing through the gut, small intestine absorption increases and further benefits proceed.

Pork Info

Proven results
Research studied the effect of protease on nutrient utilization, gut health and performance during the 21 days after weaning. A group of nursery pigs was fed a control diet with 19 percent protein with and without protease, and the other group a high protein diet (22 percent) with and without protease.


Study results showed better performance when diets were supplemented with protease, enhanced growth, and 14 percent better feed efficiency regardless of the protein content due to improved digestibility. Researchers also found that protease was able to break down 90 percent of the allergenic components of the soybean meal in vitro, which may be another reason why the protease-supplemented piglets performed better.

Regardless of species, using protease reduces protein fermentation and limits the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the intestine including E. coli. Reduction in total E. coli can result in fewer health problems.

Using a protease also allows for improved intestinal functions by supporting better gut morphology, or structure. One study showed an improvement in villus height to crypt depth ratio, which is a standard parameter to identify the gut’s absorption efficiency when a protease enzyme is added. The ratio is important because as the enterocytes – the functional unit of the villi and GI tract in the small intestine – migrate up the villi, they mature and gain functionality.

Gut barrier failure, which happens when the villus height to crypt depth ratio is compromised, is dangerous. It allows for toxins to more easily cross from the intestine into the body, resulting in decreased appetite and nutrient uptake, which leads to low growth rates. The addition of a protease enzyme contributes to the health of the villi because it creates a better gut health environment.

Supplementing with protease enzymes is a great opportunity for the industry to realize more nutrients from existing ingredients by breaking down the barriers to protein degradation and amino acid availability. This increase in protein and amino acid digestibility helps overcome the negative effects of protein fermentation.

The positive effect on the overall gut health of the animal leads to optimized animal performance and improved economic return for producers.

Announcing MINTREX® Packaging Change

Novus is pleased to announce a packaging change for MINTREX Zn, MINTREX Cu and MINTREX Mn from the existing paper bag to a new polywoven bag. This change will not affect product prices or specifications but has been rolled out to increase bag quality, strength and longevity.

Product is now being bagged in the new polywoven bags in Little Rock, Arkansas, at our MINTREX plant. Expect to see the new bags in your warehouse over the next two months as inventory of product in the paper bags depletes at our warehouses.

We apologize if this causes any inconvenience but feel you will appreciate the new bag. If you have any questions about this packaging change, please contact your local Novus sales representative or our customer service team at 800-568-0088.

Novus Is With You When It Matters!

World Pork Expo 2016 was a busy one for the Novus team! It was a very successful week with several big announcements and events happening at the tent. We officially launched Project Horizon, our effort to aid customers in the transition to antibiotic-free production. The objective of Project Horizon is to become the expert in managing health through nutrition by addressing heightened health and performance concerns arising due to the removal of antibiotics. Our team is talking to customers who are transitioning to ABF production, and they are looking forward to working with more producers throughout the industry. In addition to the launch of Project Horizon, Novus celebrated its 25th anniversary with customers, media and industry partners with a reception following the whole hog roast on Grand Ave. We had a great time at World Pork Expo and enjoyed all of our customer interactions! We hope to see you next year!

Getting to Know Yulin Ma

yulinBorn in the small village of central China, Yulin graduated from South China Agricultural University with honors. He went on to study for his master’s degree in the area of nutrition and immunology, focusing on “Effect of mycotoxin on immune response of young pigs.” To pursue his passion in swine nutrition, Yulin came to US and worked toward his PhD at the University of Kentucky under Drs. Lindemann and Cromwell, and completed his dissertation entitled, ”Evaluation of the effects of organic minerals in growing pigs and gestation sows.” In Jan of 2012, Yulin joined Novus Global R&D at St. Charles working as swine nutrition researcher. Currently, Yulin is working as a Technical Service Manager in North America. As a liaison among Novus sales, marketing and research teams, Yulin helps train sales staff, develops technical marketing materials and is involved with product development. As a new generation swine nutritionist, Yulin has demonstrated a strong ability to apply Novus research solutions to provide service and sustainability for our swine customers.

What is your official title at Novus?
Technical Services Manager, Pork. But before I began in this role I worked as a part of the global R&D team in St. Charles as Swine Nutrition Researcher.

How long have you been with Novus?
Three years and eight months so far.

In your role what is the most interesting thing you do?
Discussing mineral research with customers.

What is your favorite Novus product?
MINTREX, more research I have done on MINTREX, the more confidence I have with MINTREX. I would like to say, if you want to use the best organic trace mineral, MINTREX should be it because it is the best product what I have seen so far in the market.

What accomplishment or moment in your career are you most proud of?
My doctorate research on nutrition requirements, specifically minerals, for gestating sows resulted in five peer-reviewed published articles and five presentations.

What is the oddest or hardest question a customer has ever asked you?
What is the best product that Novus makes? It’s too hard – we have so many good products!

How do you work with customers to address their needs and overcome challenges they face?
Listen to our customers and work with them to understand their needs and challenges, seek for industry experts' advice to best address those needs and challenges, sometimes, it may not be Novus solution, but as long as it can solve customer pain, I will recommend it.

When you are not promoting Novus products and formulating rations, what do you like to do?
As a fan of Big Blue Nation of University of Kentucky, of course I like to play basketball and watch the NCAA tournament.

If you had to choose only one book for your library, what would it be?
A book on world history – it fascinates me.

What is your favorite pork product to eat?
Pork chops and grilled ribs.

JAM 2016

Along with the World Pork Expo, Novus represented our dedication to providing products based in science at JAM 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah! Several of our Novus researchers presented brand new research during the daily sessions including new research on utilizing enzymes and methionine sources for growth performance in nursery pigs presented by Dr. Ferdinando Almeida. Our team was able to discuss with customers, industry producers, as well as students from around the world, our Project Horizon and where our products play a role in production systems transitioning to ABF production. Celebrating our 25th Anniversary at Squatters Brewery was a great success with our customers and industry partners. Getting to share our experiences and passion with the Novus family for the last 25 years was a great joy. The Novus crew thanks YOU, our customers, for 25 years of business and is looking forward to continuing our business partnership for the next 25 years and beyond. We hope to see you next year!