Healthier Animals through Nutrition Solutions
Politics have put a target to the agri-world to reduce the use of antibiotics in animal production, to decrease possible induction of microbial resistance against antibiotics. However, this may increase the occurrence of health problems, and, consequently, significantly reduce the profitability of the industry. Improving the health status of animals, permitting a reduction of antibiotic use without decreasing productivity, is one of the large challenges for the animal production chain.
Indigestible protein affects (gut) health negatively. Consequently, this protein fraction is causing increased need for antibiotic use for economic animal production. A better knowledge of the mode of action of this potential negative effect will help to find solutions to improve animal health with lower antibiotic use. It will also result in better utilisation of protein, allowing the industry to increase the use of co-products from human food industry, and increase effective and sustainable animal production. Improving health status of animals is also important from animal welfare perspective.
General aim: Understanding how animal (gut) health is affected by feeding and feed composition with emphasis on protein digestibility.
The project consists of 5 sub-projects:
Project 1: WUR, UMCU: The relation between protein fermentation and associated metabolites, microbiota and post-weaning diarrhoea in pigs (Walter Gerrits)
The relation between protein fermentation, associated metabolites and microbiota in relation to gut health and pig performance.
Project 2: UMCG, WUR: A Feed-Forward Approach of New Knowledge Arising from Human Nutritional Studies in Susceptible Groups to Application in Animal Nutrition (Stephan Bakker)
The influence of protein intake, vitamins and minerals on gut microbiota, synthesis of uremic toxins and organic acids in post kidney transplantation patients.
Project 3: UMCU: An unbiased metabolomics approach to understand how the undigested protein fraction in chickens and pigs impacts on gut health (Saskia van Mil)
The influence of ileal undigested protein on metabolites in different parts of the intestinal lumen, blood, intestine and liver tissue in chicken and pigs. Focus on changes in microbiome.
Project 4: WUR: Understanding the impact of protein fermentation end-products on pig intestinal metabolic health to optimize its barrier function (Jaap Keijer).
The role of mitochondrial metabolism in the relationship to protein fermentation and the impaired gut barrier function. Development of novel feed components that improve gut health.
Project 5: WUR, UMCU : Dynamics of proteolytic fermentation and the effects on intestinal health of broilers and piglets (René Kwakkel)
Evaluate the impact of ileal undigested protein on microbial activity, proteolytic fermentation, intestinal health and animal performance.
The main results to obtain is a better understanding of the biological mechanisms and processes behind gut health issues in animals. This will be studied by using modern techniques, like metabolomics and microbiomics, using samples from different environments and conditions in practice, which is a new approach. The gut barrier function, via activity of mitochondria in gut epithelium, is a new approach to the study gut health.
Secondly, the program will result in knowledge how to influence gut health via the animal’s feed, e.g. by different processing (e.g. coarseness of milling), different feedstuff use, and/or the application of additives (e.g. vitamins, enzymes).
The results of these more basic/fundamental projects will be used to develop nutritional solutions for gut health problems.