Enhanced Gut Health Offers Opportunity to Improve Health, Productivity, Profitability

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Farmscape for January 2, 2020

Full Interview 14:17 Listen

A Microbiology Professor with the University of Guelph suggests, by taking action to promote a healthy microbial population in the gut of the pig, pork producers have an opportunity to take greater advantage of the natural ability of the animal to defend against disease. The microbiome, the microbial population contained in the gut, plays a key role in digestion and in disease resistance. “The Gut Microbiome, and Why You Should Care About It” will be among the topics discussed as part of a Swine Innovation Porc session set for January 7th, in conjunction with the Banff Pork Seminar. Dr. Emma Allen-Vercoe, a Professor of Microbiology with the University of Guelph and a Tier-1 Canada Research Chair, says by enhancing the health of the microbiome, livestock producers have an opportunity to improve the health and productivity of their herds, reduce their need for medical intervention and improve profitability.

Clip-Dr. Emma Allen-VercoeUniversity of Guelph:
One of the areas that I’m really most interested in when it comes to pork production is trying to understand the difficulties for farmers that are farming these animals in situations where they have to be kept very very clean in order to keep them healthy. One of the reasons you need to keep them so clean is because their microbiomes, their gut microbiomes in particular, have been depleted through many generations of antimicrobial use, the way that they are housed, the way that they are fed, which is very different from the natural situation. So the idea here is that, if we were to provide these microbes back to the animals, then they would once again become more resistant naturally to the sorts of infections that right now are the scourge of farming. That would allow these animals to be a lot more healthy generally and to hopefully require less medical interventions for infections or what have you.

Dr. Allen-Vercoe acknowledges, while we don’t yet fully understand what distinguishes between a healthy and an unhealthy microbiome we do know that, if you have a very high diversity microbiome, in other words if you have lots of different species present in the gut, that generally means you have a very healthy gut.

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