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Gut Health Solutions Reduce Failure in Gut Health

Gut Health can simply be defined as the ability of the gastro intestinal tract (GIT) to perform normal physiological functions and to maintain homeostasis, thereby supporting its ability to withstand infections and non-infectious stressors.

GIT problems can result in great financial losses in a poultry farm; hence it is imperative that a healthy GIT is maintained within the flock.


Nutrition plays a critical role in maintaining good gut health. When things do go wrong there are feed additives that can improve gut health. These additives not only have antimicrobial effects but support the immune system and gut barrier function as well.

New Research

In a recent research study entitled “Identification of potential biomarkers for gut barrier failure in broiler chickens,” published in Frontiers in Veterinary Sciences, Novus International, Inc., and University of Arkansas, researchers used coccidiosis over-vaccination to trigger a gut health challenge in broiler chickens fed a wheat–barley–rye diet. The overall growth performance and feed efficiency were severely reduced by this gut barrier failure (GBF) model. The results of this study are in agreement with previous studies that concluded high NSP diets compromised growth performance in chickens.

The purpose of the study was not to determine the individual effects of diet ingredients or coccidia challenge, but rather to determine potential biomarkers that may be used to define GBF in future studies. Biomarkers could be useful to monitor poultry health and understand disease mechanisms.


The results of the growth performance parameters between gut barrier failure (GBF) groups and control (CON) groups are summarized in Table 1. Body weight (BW), feed intake (FI) per bird, body weight gain (BWG) and feed conversion ratio (FCR) at 21 and 28 days of age were dramatically reduced in gut barrier failure (GBF) group chickens when compared with control (CON) group chickens (P < 0.05), indicating that GBF model substantially compromised the growth performance of chickens.



Table 2 shows the comparison of serum acute phase proteins (AGP) and endotoxin levels between the control (CON) group and gut barrier failure (GBF) group of broiler chickens at 28 days of age. AGP, a marker for systemic inflammation, was increased (P < 0.05) by 3.8-fold in GBF birds compared to CON birds (Table 2), suggesting that systemic inflammation was occurring in GBF birds. Endotoxin, a toxin released by gram-negative bacteria in the gut, was increased (P < 0.05) by 2.1-fold in serum of GBF birds compared to CON birds (Table 2), which suggests that greater amount of endotoxin was translocated from intestinal lumen into blood.


Gut barrier failure negatively affects broiler growth performance, with reductions in body weight gain and increases in feed conversion ratio. This is due to the increase in the amount of endotoxin in the blood of birds affected by gut barrier failure. As a consequence broiler farm profitability is reduced by failure in gut health.

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