Potential Threats to Broiler Gut Health

The gastrointestinal tract (GIT, gut) offers a biological environment for the breakdown and absorption of nutrients as well as defense against pathogens and toxins. It is constantly exposed to a wide range of potentially hazardous substances. The gut serves as a discriminating barrier between the luminal environment and the bird's tissues. The delicate balance among the components of the chicken intestine can be negatively impacted by a variety of dietary, infectious, genetic, and other environmental components (below figure), which can therefore have an impact on the health and productivity of birds in commercial poultry operations.

Feed: Connection to potential threats to gut health

A bird's food can include both nutrients and non-nutrients, as well as both useful and possibly hazardous elements. The primary cost of production in the poultry industry is feed, which is also likely the most significant item that can expose birds to a wide range of variables through the gut. Although a variety of feed items, including cereals contain a variety of anti-nutritional compound but non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) constitute the largest group. All cereals used in poultry diets contain varying amounts of NSPs which are resistance to the bird's digestive enzymes and a propensity to create a viscous environment in the intestinal lumen. It has been demonstrated that high intestinal viscosity can lead to digestive and health issues. NSP reduces the availability of nutrients and the pace of digestion. In the small intestine, increased digesta retention time promotes bacterial colonization and activity.

Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and Reactive Nitrogen Species (RNS)

In physiology ROS and RNS produced by gut epithelial cells from oxygen metabolism and enteric commensal bacteria control the health of the gut. However, the elevated levels of ROS boost the generation of free radicals and antioxidant insults, leading to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress in the gut of poultry is caused by several dietary, environmental (heat stress), and pathological variables, and it affects both the meat quality and general performance of poultry birds.

Enteric challenges

The gut provides the mechanisms by which the body derives nutrition from feed ingredients while safeguarding from various pathogens by various protective mechanisms. A complicated mix of viruses, bacteria, and other infectious and non- infectious organisms contribute to the aetiology of an enteric disease. Some pathogens inflict mild damage on the digestive system, which can result in poor feed conversion efficiency and slowed body weight gain in flocks of chickens. However, higher mortality and overt disease may be the effects of more severe intestinal injury. Necrotic enteritis (NE) can cause some of the worst intestinal lesions of any condition that affects chickens.


The GI tract has the largest exposed surface area in the body, and a range of dietary variables and infectious illness agents can have a negative impact on the delicate Balance of the gut. Changes to this equilibrium may have an impact on the health and productivity of the birds in commercial poultry operations.

Compiled and Published by Agrivet Research and Advisory Private Limited

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