A healthy gut system is vital for proper digestion of feed, good growth performance, and the prevention of several digestive disorders such as necrotic enteritis. Therefore an important key for keeping poultry healthy under modern production conditions, is to take care of the health associated to the gastro intestinal tract. The gut is a very dynamic and smart ecosystem on its own, colonized by a complex community of highly diverse microbes. A well-balanced gut microbiota plays an essential role in protecting the bird against inappropriate overgrowth of pathogens, other harmful bacteria, and viruses. If this balance is disturbed due to factors such as environmental stress or dietary impacts, a reduced performance or increased susceptibility to infections are frequent consequences. In this regard, it is crucial to support and modulate the microbiota in such a way that it is strengthened to fight unwanted bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and C. perfringens.
Supportive Role of Probiotics
Today probiotics are increasingly used in commercial livestock farming to stabilize gastrointestinal function and thereby improve animal health and productivity. Probiotics are live microorganisms that may beneficially affect the host upon ingestion by improving or maintaining the balance of the intestinal microbiota. They are known to be one of the most successful groups of gut health-promoting supplements. The portfolio of probiotics available on the market today is growing remarkably.
The available probiotic categories differ from each other in terms of properties and mode of action. These differences directly impact the selection of a suitable probiotic depending on the intended purpose. A welldocumented probiotic class are lactic acid bacteria (LAB), known to positively modulate the intestinal microbiota by inhibiting pathogens in the gut and maintaining the intestinal barrier function. Also, spore-forming strains are known to have a substantial beneficial effect on gut health of poultry mainly based on enzyme production, direct inhibition of certain pathogens via bioavtive peptides, and achievement of a favorable environment for other health- beneficial bacteria such as LAB. In contrast to LAB, only spore-forming Bacillus probiotics are naturally heat resistant, which is an essential technical feature to ensure the use in pelleted feed.
New probiotic: TechnoSpore®
The development of effective probiotics and unraveling their mode of action is a continuous topic of research. Recent studies showed that the microbiota thrives, and performance is enhanced when animals are fed with a combination of lactic-acid producing and spore- forming bacteria. Such observations have led to the idea for the development of a new probiotic. Based on Bacillus coagulans DSM 32016, a novel feed additive with the brand name “TechnoSpore®” has been approved by the EU under the Feed Additives Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003).
According to the product development team of Biochem Zusatzstoffe (Lohne, Germany), this new probiotic strain is a unique 2 in 1 solution that combines the advantages of spore-forming bacteria and lactic acid- producing bacteria to beneficially modulate the intestinal microbiota. An in vitro study demonstrated that bacterial species differ strongly in their efficiency to produce lactic acid (Figure 1).
The reliable lactic acid production capacity of Bacillus coagulans DSM 32016 resulted in a reduction of pH, which exemplary shows the beneficial potential of administered B. coagulans on the intestinal environment. Next to this, direct inhibition effects of B. coagulans DSM 32016 have been measured, towards gram-positive as well as gram-negative pathogens.
For feed application another important aspect needs to be considered: heat stability. It is well known that untreated lactic acid bacteria are not heat stable and thus not suitable for thermal feed treatments. In a pelleting test, including temperatures between 80°C and 100°C, the recovery rate of Bacillus coagulans DSM 32016 in TechnoSpore® was investigated. This test successfully demonstrated a reliable heat resistance of B. coagulans DSM 32016 during common pelleting conditions, which makes TechnoSpore® an appropriate candidate for a broad range of applications.
Positive Effects on Broiler Performance
Several studies indicated that the administration of TechnoSpore® results in better overall performance and health in poultry for fattening, and ornamental birds, even under high-performing conditions. A meta- analysis of 17 broiler trials showed appreciable improvements in zootechnical performance due to B. coagulans DSM 32016 administration (Figure 2).
It could be demonstrated that birds fed with this probiotic showed a higher final body weight and increased daily weight gain (+5.7%) compared to the control group. The adminsitration of TechnoSpore® led to a mean reduction of the feed conversion ratio by 5.3%. Moreover, a reduction in mortality rate was recorded in these trials, by 1.4 percent points on average. These results indicate that the use of this new probiotic strain might allow a marked enhancement in the the profitability of poultry production units due to improvements in zootechnical performance, combined with a better survival rate.
A positive modulation of the intestinal microbiota, which includes the suppression of pathogenic and stimulation of health-beneficial bacteria, positively affects important zootechnical parameters in broilers, such as feed conversion ratio, daily growth, and mortality. The trials with TechnoSpore® reinforce the reliablitly and efficiency of this new probiotic to support poultry farmers by keeping their birds healthy and exploiting the animal genetic potential in a natural way.