For decades, livestock and poultry producers have dealt with common production challenges, such as poor carcass and meat quality, lowered reproduction, decreased milk production and milk quality, as well as lameness.
Through extensive research conducted by Zinpro and the animal production industry, we now understand that a common root cause links these production issues: chronic or imbalanced inflammation.
Zinpro has recently launched a global campaign to increase livestock and poultry producer awareness and understanding of inflammation and its link to production challenges, as well as what preventative steps can be taken to help manage chronic inflammation.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is necessary for life and is the first step in the healing or repair process that helps the body fight off bacteria, pathogens and their toxins, and repair damaged tissue. If you’ve ever twisted your ankle, been stung by an insect, or cut your finger, you may have experienced firsthand the familiar sensations of pain, redness, swelling and heat that result from an injury or infection. This is acute inflammation in action.
While an appropriate and robust inflammatory response is necessary, excessive or prolonged inflammation can become detrimental if not controlled. Chronic inflammation occurs when the immune response fails to eliminate the cause of the immune challenge and it can last for weeks, months or longer.
What Are the Risks or Costs Associated With Chronic Inflammation?
Livestock and poultry producers need to pay close attention to inflammation and the immune system. Inflammation is a hidden production challenge. Its outward symptoms are hard to identify early on and can negatively impact animal performance and profitability before you know there is an issue.
While inflammation is necessary, there is a trade-off in terms of animal performance. When an animal is sick, its feed intake will decrease. At the same time, the immune system redirects nutrients utilized for growth to protection during an acute inflammatory response.
When the immune response persists and chronic inflammation occurs, nutrients and energy are diverted away from animal performance (including growth, reproduction, feed efficiency as well as meat, milk, or egg production) to fight the chronic inflammatory response, ultimately decreasing profitability.
Common Sources of Inflammation
There are several common inflammation sources that impact livestock and poultry performance and profitability. Two of the most common sources are poor gut integrity and heat stress.
- Poor gut integrity: The gastrointestinal (GI) tract lining serves as an important barrier to prevent bacteria, pathogens and their toxins from passing through the intestinal lining and into the bloodstream. When a breakdown in the barrier occurs, this can lead to a condition called leaky gut. When a prolonged inflammatory response occurs in the GI tract, this decreases feed intake and animal performance.
- Heat stress: When animals are under heat stress, blood flow is diverted away from the stomach, digestive tract and other internal organs to the skin, which facilitates the heat dissipation process. However, the reduction in blood flow causes a decrease in the amount of oxygen and energy available to the epithelial layer of cells (enterocytes) lining the gastrointestinal tract resulting in loss of integrity. This ultimately allows pathogens and their toxins to enter the bloodstream, due to leaky gut.
Why is Zinpro Leading the Inflammation Conversation?
The economic and animal wellness impacts of chronic inflammation are significant: poor reproductive performance, increased incidence of lameness, decreased milk production, increased respiratory issues and poor carcass quality. While these are significant performance impacts, they also have a negative impact on the wellness of the animals in our care.
In today’s volatile markets, it’s imperative to fully understand the sources and implications of inflammation and take preventative steps to protect the wellness and performance of the animals in your care.
Preventive steps should include more rigorous management to identify triggers that may negatively impact gut integrity and heat stress — two significant sources of inflammation. These can include increased oversight of feed quality to minimize the presence of mycotoxins and potential tissue damage that may occur in animals consuming the feed. Ensuring proper stocking densities and ventilation to help manage heat stress in your operation are also critical.
Another step is the inclusion of performance trace minerals in the feed ration. Performance trace minerals — when fed as part of a well-balanced livestock or poultry nutrition program — can help manage the effects of chronic inflammation.
Performance trace minerals fortify the immune system, providing a more robust and balanced immune response. This helps animals recover from an inflammation challenge faster, while minimizing economic losses.
Zinpro has created a series of articles and research summaries to help livestock and poultry producers better understand the role and implications of chronic inflammation. These educational articles are available in our Resource Center. Also download the Unlocking Solutions to Chronic Inflammation white paper to learn more about inflammation and its impact on animal wellness and performance.
Throughout 2019 and 2020, Zinpro will continue to provide additional educational content to the Essential Feed site, helping livestock and poultry producers better understand inflammation and research-proven approaches to manage chronic inflammation in their animals.