AGPs out, Inflammation in
In livestock production, antibiotics were widely used as growth promoters (AGPs). The reason AGPs have been used to promote growth is simple. Antibiotics at sub-therapeutic levels reduce pathogen pressure, inflammation and diseases. Once the body no longer needs to waste energy mounting an immune response to pathogens and trying to fight infections, all the metabolic energy the animals acquire from nutrients is primarily channeled for growth. However, since AGPs have been increasingly banned around the world, due to the rise of antimicrobial resistance, certain challenges in animal rearing started re-surfacing. Inflammation, for example, has become a critical and visible issue in many farms. And one of the main causes of inflammation is oxidative stress.
What is oxidative stress?
Oxidative stress is a process in the body that can happen in every cell or tissue, impairing absorption capacity and leading to lipid peroxidation, protein nitration and DNA damage. This process occurs when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants.
Free radicals are molecules with one or more unpaired electrons which in order to gain an electron, steal it from another cell. Under normal conditions, free radicals are neutralized by antioxidants. However, in certain circumstances this balance is lost, resulting in accumulation of free radicals and oxidative stress. In farm animals this imbalance can occur in many situations of stress, for example, stress due to crowding, transportation, heat, dehydration, mycotoxins, poor feed quality, infections and so on.
Oxidative stress and inflammation
Oxidative stress will damage components of our cells such as lipids and proteins, thus leading to loss of cell function. Generally, the body repairs the damaged tissue with the help of a healthy immune system. However, when the immune system is under a lot of pressure, a high number of free radicals cause cycles of oxidative stress, also resulting in chronic inflammation. Long term oxidative stress and inflammation are major disadvantages and affect performance of all organs. For example, the consequences of long-term oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can be loss of cell function, organ dysfunction, diseases and decreased animal performance.
Inflammation and animal performance
There is no question that inflammation is necessary for life as it is the first step in the healing process of animals. But inflammation in excess can be very harmful and affect animal performance.
There are two kinds of inflammation; Acute and Chronic.
Acute inflammation is a vital process to maintain life as it is the first line of the defence mechanism of our immune system when it perceives danger in our body, for example, when there is injury or entry of pathogens. It is a short-term process, generally occurring within minutes or hours, and it is characterized by pain, redness, heat, swelling and even immobility. Normally, once that danger is eliminated, the inflammatory process is cleared and the body returns to its normal state. Nonetheless, sometimes the body fails to eliminate the cause of the inflammation or to reduce the inflammatory process. These can result in chronic inflammation which lasts much longer than acute inflammation, for example, weeks.
Chronic inflammation is negative as the body diverts nutrients/energy from growth, reproduction or production to try to control the inflammatory response. As a result, animals which are continuously experiencing chronic inflammation also experience suppressed performance and productivity. This is the reason our industry must pay close attention to inflammation in animals.
What are the causes of inflammation?
Inflammation can occur in any system in the body. And since all organs and systems must perfectly work together for the animal to be healthy and achieve its optimal performance, any point of inflammation is likely to affect performance and profitability. Nevertheless, poor gut integrity and oxidative stress are known to be one of the most common causes of chronic inflammation in animal farming. This is because a healthy Gastrointestinal (GI) tract is responsible for nutrient intake and acts a barrier to prevent bacteria from invading the body. Conversely, a GI tract presenting prolonged inflammation, not only has its nutrient absorption capacity reduced, but also becomes an ideal environment for opportunistic pathogenic bacteria to cause diseases and detrimental consequences such as leaky gut. Therefore, the consequences of inflammation, particularly in the gut, are decreased animal performance, infections, diseases, and even mortality.
With the ban of AGPs in Europe and in many other countries around the world, inflammation has been considerably increasing in farm animals. XVET Germany promotes know-how in good management, biosecurity and nutrition plans, and offers high-quality products which will help you manage inflammation and stress in your farm. For more information please contact Technical@xvetgermany.com .