Poultry performs better with bioavailable zinc

09-10-2015 | |
Zinc improves gut integrity and can help birds overcome stress. [Photo: Henk Riswick]
Zinc improves gut integrity and can help birds overcome stress. [Photo: Henk Riswick]

A growing body of research shows that birds perform better with bioavailable zinc. The latest findings were presented earlier this year at the 3rd International Poultry Symposium in Paris, hosted by Zinpro Corporation.

Chris Chase, Ph.D., D.V.M., professor in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at South Dakota State University (USA), explained that one of the reasons for improved bird performance is that zinc improves gut integrity and can help birds overcome stress. A healthy gut is key to animal health, not only for feed utilisation, but also as a first line of immune system defence. Without adequate zinc, environmental factors such as heat stress and changes in diet can weaken the intestinal wall.

Stopping leaky gut

The opposite of a healthy gut is a “leaky” gut, which allows the passing of poorly digested feed, pathogens and toxins into the bloodstream, leading to serious health problems for birds, and potential contamination of broiler meat and eggs. Christof Rapp, Ph.D., Research and Nutritional Services (RNS) regional manager — Europe, Zinpro Corporation, presented various research findings that show weakening of the tight junctions in the gut becomes more serious with zinc deficiency. He explained that this trace mineral is important for the formation of structural components of organs, tissues, cells and molecules.

Zinc strengthens the single layer between the inside and outside of the gut. Stress proves to be a major factor in the onset of exacerbation of gastrointestinal (GI) diseases. Adam Moeser, Ph.D., D.V.M., associate professor in gastrointestinal medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University (USA), said stress leads to poor feed intake, decreased weight gain, GI-infections and wet droppings. This underlines the need to prevent stress and maintain adequate levels of feed nutrients such as zinc.

The role of Zinc in Salmonella control

Salmonella contamination from food animals to humans is a global problem. In the European Union alone, the European Food Safety Agency warned that more than 100,000 human cases occur annually, at a cost of 3 billion Euros. Annsofie Wahlstrom, Ph.D., poultry research nutritionist — Europe, Zinpro Corporation, agrees that the implications of zinc deficiency, leaky gut and salmonella are a serious concern, and zinc nutrition can have a significant role in reducing the systematic spread of salmonella within birds. Organic zinc supplementation consistently results in improved immune response and more efficient bacteria control due to an improved intestinal barrier function.

Zinpro produces bioavailable zinc under the brand name Availa-Zn.

Emmy Koeleman Freelance editor