VIDEO: Tips for improving broiler gut health

Learn what Cargill's director of poultry nutrition and technical services suggests for optimizing gut health to improve broiler performance

Cargill’s director of poultry nutrition and technical services offers insights into the ways gut health affects broiler performance

With the move toward “no-antibiotics-ever” (NAE) broiler diets, live production managers and nutritionists face an increased challenge to enhance and support gut health to optimize broiler productivity. Gut health plays a critical role in ensuring all of the nutrients provided by the feed are able to benefit the animal and improve its performance.

Dr. Rob Payne, director of poultry nutrition and technical services, Cargill Animal Nutrition, joined the Chat to discuss the importance of optimizing gut health in broiler production and how to identify potential challenges.

Video transcript: Feed Strategy Chat with Dr. Rob Payne, Cargill Animal Nutrition’s director of poultry nutrition and technical services

Jackie Roembke, editor, Feed Strategy: Hello everyone and welcome to Feed Strategy Chat. I am your host, Jackie Roembke, editor of Feed Strategy magazine.

This edition of Feed Strategy Chat is brought to you by Cargill.

Cargill has more than 120 years of experience in animal nutrition solutions. Today, that means helping you feed a growing world — a population that’s expected to expand by nearly 30% by 2050. It also means helping you adapt to complex market forces as regulations change the way you operate, forcing you to find new ways to maximize feed conversion and improve animal performance.

Cargill’s purpose is to help you succeed, so you can do your job more affordably, more efficiently and more sustainably.

Joining the Chat today, we have Dr. Rob Payne, director of poultry nutrition and technical services with Cargill Animal Nutrition. Dr. Payne is here to discuss the importance of optimizing gut health in broiler production. Hi, Rob, how are you?

Dr. Rob Payne, director of poultry nutrition and technical services with Cargill Animal Nutrition: I’m doing great, Jackie, thanks for having me.

Roembke: Thank you so much for being here. So let’s get back to basics. Will you please describe the role of gut health in broiler nutrition?

Payne: Well, I’ll certainly try. Gut health is a pretty complex series of interactions between the nutrition of the animal, the microbiota that live in the gut, and sometimes the microbiota that we don’t wish to live in the gut. And then the intestinal health itself. The interaction between these three major pillars has a pretty profound effect on the nutrition of a broiler — or really any animal. Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is optimize the intestinal health. And we’re doing that via optimizing the microbiota in the intestine. And in doing that, then, we’re ultimately optimizing the nutrition that we can get from the feedstuffs that we’re feeding the animals.

Register for “Managing the Poultry Microbiome to Optimize Performance” webinar series:

Roembke: How does that help positively and negatively impact for performance?

Payne: Yeah, so I just mentioned a little bit on the positive side. So I’ll start on the negative side first.

Gut health plays a critical role in how we manage nutrition, as I mentioned on the negative side, when we have a number of challenges as we do today — in all types of production but especially in NAE types of production — we have a number of enteric challenges that the bird is facing. And those enteric challenges often occur in the gut and as a result they have a negative effect on the bird’s ability to get nutrients from the feed. The bird is not able to digest and break down the feedstuffs as it normally would if it were performing optimally. It’s also diverting nutrients away from production in order to fuel the immune system to be able to deal with the challenges. So that’s not an ideal situation.

What we would prefer is to have the bird — and say the gut health is as optimal as possible — as healthy as possible, if you will. And when we have that, as I mentioned before, then that gives the bird the chance to break down the feed the way it should as it moves through the gut, and then be able to get the the various nutrients — whether that’s amino acids, minerals, vitamins — into the absorbed through the small intestine and available for use.

Roembke: What can producers do to properly manage gut health for a more productive bird?

Payne: Yeah, there’s a number of things that they can ultimately do. The hardest part is identifying what challenges their birds, their population, is facing. There are a number of tools that can help with that. And the one we’ll be talking about, Galleon, is a microbiome assay that helps us determine what type of challenges we might be facing.

From there, once we have an idea of the types of challenges we’re under, then there’s various feed additives available on the market — as well as various nutrition solutions that we know of that can help mitigate those risks. And some of those include probiotics, prebiotics, organic acids, enzymes — not to mention our ability to adapt the nutrition program, to adapt amino acid levels in diets, etc. — to “feed the cold,” if you will, to be able to give the bird the nutrients that it needs to overcome the challenge it’s facing.

Roembke: Great, thank you so much for those insights. To learn more about the role gut health plays in optimizing poultry production, join us for the upcoming two-part webinar series, “Managing the Poultry Microbiome to Optimize Performance,” sponsored by Cargill, broadcasting on May 18 and May 25. To register, visit

Thanks again, Rob, and thanks to you for tuning in.