Intestinal health in calves
The intestine is the body’s largest organ, exposed to the outside world while performing complex functions. It is also one of the most important factors for immunity, as 70 to 80 per cent of the body’s immune cells are located in the gut.
Digestion of food and absorption of nutrients are the best-known functions of the digestive tract. The intestinal mucosa not only helps with digestion, but also serves as a barrier that prevents the penetration of germs and toxins.
Metabolic imprinting, gut barrier and gut microbiome: key factors for health and performance
Metabolic imprinting, the gut microbiome and the gut barrier are closely linked aspects of gut health that play a critical role in early development and overall health. By adjusting the diet and feed quantity, a change in the gut microbiome and its metabolites can be achieved while improving animal welfare, health and performance. A healthy gut is crucial for the development of a healthy calf and therefore also crucial for later performance as a dairy cow or fattening bull.
The metabolic imprinting and the imprinting of the microbiome in the intestine of the calf begins before birth in the womb and continues with the intake of the first food, the colostrum. Colostrum primarily serves to establish passive immunity, but also has a very important function in the bacterial colonisation of the intestine. This in turn is important for the development of the calf’s active, local as well as systemic immunity.
To maintain the calf’s immunity, resistance to diarrhoeal diseases and the optimal development of the organs, the calf needs appropriate amounts of energy and nutrients. Extensive research has shown that intensive rearing leads to an improved constitution of the young animals and to higher performance in the first lactations.
The intestinal barrier is also called the intestinal mucosal barrier. It is a physical and functional barrier between the intestinal lumen and the internal body tissues. One of its important functions is to prevent the passage of germs and toxins into the bloodstream.
The newborn calf has only passive immunity, which is mediated by the colostrum. Until the calf has fully developed its own immune status, there is an immunological gap. This is a critical phase of calf rearing.
In order to provide the calf with the best possible conditions for a successful start, it is important to positively influence the development of the gut as early as possible. The basis for optimal growth is a stable intestinal flora and good intestinal health of the animal. Only this makes it possible to exploit the maximum growth potential. This background forms the basis for the development of our products, especially in the BEWI-SAN and BEWI-MILK® portfolio.
The microbiome is a group of microorganisms in our intestinal system that functions as an organ itself. It influences how resilient we are and how we respond to various stimuli as well as how do we react to the different nutrients in our system. As a result, the microbiome is crucial to our overall health and well-being.
The animal‘s gut health status can be impacted by a number of factors, such as management, pathogen pressure, and diet, which can result in microbiome dysbiosis, disturbance of intestinal homeostasis, gut mucosal barrier leakage, and inflammation. Modulation of the gut microbiome can improve the growth and promote health in calves. Therefore, it is important to modulate the calves’ microbiota and immune system, reduce oxidative stress, strengthen the gut barrier and reduce pathogens with appropriate feeding solutions.
The best possible supply of nutrients and energy are important to promote the development of the gut and its function. That is why we are using only high-quality and high digestible components in optimal combination in our BEWITAL products.
Targeted feeding makes a decisive contribution to guaranteeing successful piglet calf rearing. What is missed at calf stage cannot be recovered later. Only healthy, optimally fed calves can later produce high milk yields for a long productive life of the dairy cows.
Promoting gut health plays a big role in long-term success. It is important to promote the development of the young calf’s gut as early as possible – so let’s “gut it!”.