Probiotics: Second mother for young ruminants?

Study shows early separation of young ruminants from dam has negative influence on rumen colonization but probiotics may lessen effect.

Lallemand Animal Nutrition participated in the fifth Beneficial Microbes Conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on Oct. 10-12, 2016.

This unique event gathers international scientists focusing their research on beneficial microbes supporting the health and well-being of both humans and animals. Dr. Frederique Chaucheyras-Durand, research manager for Lallemand Animal Nutrition and member of the advisory committee for the conference, chaired the session on young animals.

Chaucheyras-Durand also presented a new study conducted at the French Agronomical Research Institute (INRA) concerning the establishment of the digestive microflora in young ruminants and the effect of probiotics during the session dedicated to pregnancy and early life in animals.

Chaucheyras-Durand explained, “In ruminants, the gastrointestinal microbiota is essential for digestion since it is the microbial fermentation occurring in the rumen that supplies the animal with essential sources of energy and nitrogen.

"A great diversity and abundance of microorganisms play a key role in plant biomass degradation. Young animals are born without a microbiota. The factors influencing rumen microbial colonization are not well known, but it is believed that repeated contacts with the dam or older animals play an important part," she said.

"Early maternal separation could impair rumen microbial colonization in early life, which would then affect rumen function and ultimately impact animal health and performance. In this context, probiotics could be used as a nutritional tool to optimize rumen microbial establishment. Based on this assumption, a study was conducted at INRA using newborn lambs fed milk replacer as a model of rumen microflora development. Thanks to investments in modern genomic technologies, we could further confirm the role of probiotics on rumen development,” Chaucheyras-Durand added.

The study used DNA-based techniques (quantitative polymerase chain reaction and amplicon sequencing) to study the microbiota abundance, diversity and composition at different time points from birth up to 60 days of age, looking in particular at functionally important populations such as fiber-degrading microorganisms in the presence or absence of a symbiotic feed additive, which was a combination of Saccharomyces cerevisiae CNCM I-1077 and yeast metabolites.

The results confirmed that early maternal separation had a negative impact on rumen colonization with key microbial populations. Indeed, no significant establishment of ciliate protozoa, fungi and Fibrobacter succinogenes was observed in lambs fed milk replacer, she reported.

Chaucheyras-Durand concluded, “When the lambs received the symbiotic feed additive, in addition to milk replacer and to starter feed, we observed earlier rumen colonization by protozoa, anaerobic fungi and F. succinogenes, which are important players in fiber degradation. This result suggests that the additive accelerated the maturation of the rumen microbial ecosystem in young animals. This beneficial effect could positively impact rumen function and animal digestive performance. Moreover, the fecal population of Ruminococcus flavefaciens, another fiber-degrading bacterial species, was also increased with the supplement, suggesting a post-ruminal effect of the additives.”

This study supports and complements earlier work on the rumen specific live yeast strain S. cerevisiae CNCM I-1077 and its mode of action reported in more than 100 scientific publications to date. This study confirms benefits on the maturation of the rumen microbial ecosystem, which can result in a positive effect on animal performance and health both before and after weaning, in particular with an increase in grain intake and a reduced frequency of diarrhea.

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