Feed additive producer Nutriad recently co-financed a research project at Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in the Netherlands on the use of butyrate as feed additive in broiler diets.
The multiyear research project was concluded with the doctoral thesis of Pierre Moquet, who started his research in the WUR Animal Nutrition Group to investigate an important conundrum related to the use of butyrate as an additive in animal feed: On one hand, this molecule has received considerable attention for its potential to improve intestinal health and animal performance, while on the other hand, the mechanisms underlying these effects have been described as very diverse and seemingly less consistent, Nutriad said.
Together with a fellow doctoral student at Ghent University, Moquet set out to explore this topic in the framework of a research project that was co-financed by Nutriad and VLAIO, the Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship agency in Belgium.
Dr. Tim Goossens, business development manager digestive performance at Nutriad, who coordinated support for the project, explained, “Dr. Moquet found evidence supporting his hypothesis that at least part of this variation can be attributed to the fact that different products deliver butyrate in distinct parts of the gastrointestinal tract. These different release profiles result in specific digestive, microbial and immunological responses.”
For example, when butyrate levels were increased solely in the proximal part of the gastrointestinal tract -- specifically in the small intestine -- expression of host defense peptides was modulated, and the levels of certain antibodies in the blood were increased, Nutriad said. However, these treatments also triggered cecal microbial dysbiosis and inflammatory responses.
On the other hand, when additives were used to increase butyrate not only in the proximal gastrointestinal tract but also the hindgut, no signs of gut inflammation were observed, the announcement said, while the apparent digestibility of methionine was improved, as was the feed conversion ratio.
“All in all, the data suggest that butyrate indeed has the potential to elicit important gut health-stimulating mechanisms, but it is not an ‘always beneficial everywhere’ product," Goossens concluded. "Instead, the importance of precision delivery of this molecule is highlighted once more. This is especially important for butyrate producers if they are to provide practical and smart solutions to animal producers.”