Koen Schwarzer is Innovation Manager for Perstorp Feed & Food, and has been in the industry for nearly 40 years. As regulations in the farming industry change, and the demand for food rises with increasing population, the feed industry must continue to prioritize the health and productivity of animals. Here we explore three essential components of improving animal gut health, which will help to achieve a more sustainable future.
Understanding the gut
The gut, in both humans and animals, is an incredibly complex environment. One small change can set off a chain of unexpected events altering the intestinal microbial balance, influencing biochemical functions, etc. Koen identifies the understanding of the gut, through fully utilizing the capabilities of advanced technologies, as a real opportunity to improve animal gut health and performance:
“It’s important to understand how to prevent and overcome animal health issues on a more precise level, which will mainly derive from research. Perstorp does a lot of work with universities and institutes using the latest fast-evolving techniques.
We also need to understand more about the biological activities at cellular level in the animal and how they are influenced by components in the diet and their direct or indirect consequences on the composition of the gut microbiota.
It is complex and all the time new findings pop up, which makes it so exciting.
“Perstorp is trying to understand more by diving deeper in the basics. What do our organic acids and their derivatives trigger, what biological function do they influence? The effects we experience originate not only from their antimicrobial characteristics.
Signalling for example gains more and more attention, which is when certain genes are turned on or off in the cells of animals or of micro-organism
s. We are trying to find out more about these mechanisms and how they can assist in preventing or overcoming undesirable situations.”
As technology advances at rates like nothing before, and gets cheaper with each new iteration, the farming industry looks to adopt a more modern
dressing sustainability.approach of working. Koen adds:
“Precision Livestock Farming is on its way, where the individual monitoring and treatment of animals will be possible. The use of advanced technologies to optimize the contribution of each animal. Through this "per animal" approach, the farmer aims to deliver better results in livestock farming. Those results can be quantitative, qualitative and/or ad
“Precision nutrition will become important and so will the knowledge of the specific effects of feed components and additives. The supply of adapted diets (including nutrients and feed additives) towards the requirements based on the age of the animal will lead to further achievements in animal performance, health and well-being. This will result in quality food products”
Animal health and wellbeing is absolutely crucial for the future of the farming industry. Consumers in certain groups of the world’s population are more conscious than ever, both when it concerns the quality of meat they buy, and how animals have been raised. There’s a noticeable shift to people eating meat from organic farms, or at least cutting down on meat consumption. On the other hand there is a substantial increase in meat consumption in developing countries. Just as importantly, healthy animals are the most productive. There are a few ways the wellbeing of animals can be improved in the future. Koen explains:
“Good animal well-being requires further approaches through nutrition for example to assure animal health, reducing risk for certain diseases, as well as appropriate management, humane handling and protection throughout each animal’s life. Improvements in animal well-being is a continuous process, and one that requires collaboration among the various stakeholders, as well as capacity building (both knowledge and resources) among all those involved in keeping or caring for animals.
“Organic acids and their derivatives certainly play a role here as well. These molecules, which are naturally present in the intestinal tract of human and animals, are engineered and optimized in products to ensure the quality of feed raw materials and compound feed during storage. This improves digestibility and enhances nutrient utilization in the animal, as well as assisting the delivery of the valuable nutrients and vitamins.”
As more markets around the world turn to organic acid based solutions to improve productivity and animal gut health, it strengthens Perstorp’s position, allowing for further research which will lead to an even healthier future.