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Acids to maintain gut animal health


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WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE OUTBREAK OF THE CORONA VIRUS?

In many countries, people are in lockdown, IC-units are under high pressure and people are concerned to get ill. Measures taken by the governments are all aimed at reducing the effect of the virus.  In many countries the goverment has a different approach to Covid-19 virus. In addition to a different approach, there are also other aspects that contribute to a different results per country. 

What contributes to these differences?
  • Population density.
  • The reapid adoption of goverment measures.
  • Speed of intervention.
  • Compliance of the people to the measures.
  • Biosecurity (hygiene, washing and disinfectance, social distancing).
By farming in remote area's the population density can be reduced on farms. Unfortunately this is not always possible. Speed of intervention is something that we partly control ourselves. By measuring the amount of drinking water and feed each day, you can be alarmed when this suddenly drops down (feed) or increases (drinking water). When this is noticed, it is important to investigate the animals, do postmortem and interfere in the situation. Hygiene is very important for several reasons. Hygiene is primarily important for the welfare and health of humans and animals. When there is no or a bad hygiene, there is a greater risk for diseases. At this moment, we are experiencing the pandemic Coronavirus (Covid-19). To prevent further spread of this virus, we have to use many hygiene measures. Why do you need to improve animal hygiene? Unsanitary situations on a farm increase the risk of sick animals. This applies to all types of animals. Sick animals require extra attention and time. Furthermore there is a good chance that if 1 animal is sick, this sick animal will infect the other animals. Diseases of animals can lead to loss of turnover, growth reduction, decrease egg production and/or death of the animal. Besides good hygiene, it is also important to improve gut health and the immune system.b0353381-41ba-4766-b6dd-a692b42e865c.jpgImage 1 - Important management measures to prevent diseases.  


How can you improve the health of animals and secure your income? One of the possibilities to improve gut health and thereby to improve the immune system for animals is acidifying drinking water or feed. Acidifying helps to:


  • Improve animals performance:
    • Decreasing pressure on the animals immune system so more nutrients are available for production of eggs or meat.
    • Low pH in upper digestive or entire digestive system may improve protein digestibility.
    • Improved digestibility of minerals and trace elements like Ca, P, Zn and Mg.
  • Reduce bacteria populations in the water/feed system and in the animals to prevent diseases.
  • Reduce scale and biofilm build up in the water system.
  • Improve animal performance (increase growth and quantity of eggs) during heat stress by protecting the gut.
  • To help maintain an optimum pH in crop and stomach so protein digestibility can be improved (activation and better function of proteolytic enzymes).
  • Total protein digestion in the stomach.
  • To stimulate feed consumption.
  • To inhibit the growth and spread of pathogenic bacteria.
Do you know the difference between inorganic vs organic acids?
The principal difference between organic vs inorganic acids is the presences of carbon in their chemical composition. Due to their carbon-group, the organic acids are able to penetrate the bacterial cell wall, inorganic acids are not capable of doing this. Organic acids also have a high nutritional value which adds to the performance and digestion of poultry.  The advantage of organic acids are their strong antimicrobial activity. (organic acids can penetrate the bacterial cell wall).

The antibacterial effect of organic acids is by:
  • Modification of bacteria’s internal pH.
  • Inhibition of bacteria’s metabolic functions.
  • Accumulation of toxins in the bacteria.
  • Disruption of the bacteria’s cell wall.
Inorganic acids do not have the antimicrobial mode of action, but are very effective in reducing and buffering (keep stable for a long while) the pH of the drinking water. Inorganic acids have also shown higher persistence in the gut than organic acids. Although inorganic acids do not kill bacteria, they do have an inhibiting effect on bacteria, and can be used to sustain (not improve) the quality of the drinking water. Inorganic acids can play an important role in digestion of proteins, minerals and trace elements, for instance in releasing more calcium, magnesium and zinc from the feed. Inorganic acids can also reduce the amount of scale inside the drinking water pipes.  

Organic acidifiers can be divided in coated or uncoated acidifiers. 
Uncoated acidifiers: 
(see image 2, the upper part of the digestive system)


  • Acidify water (lower the pH) or feed.
  • Acidify only the upper digestive system.
  • Support digestion.


00ad42af-44b8-4a90-ab9d-2e556bca050a.jpgImage 2 - Uncoated acidifiers work in theupper digestive system, coated acidifiers in the whole digestive system.Coated acidifiers: (see image 2, the lower part of the digestive system)


  • Acidify feed.
  • Acidify the whole digestive system.
  • Support digestion.
  • Stimulate gut cells, enzymes and helpful bacteria in the intestinal system.
  • Reduce pathogenic bacteria in entire digestive system.
How to choose your method of acidifying?
Advantages of acidifying feed:
  • You can choose between coated and uncoated acidifiers:
  • Increase of digestibility and availability of nutrients like protein and minerals.
  • Prevent intake and spread of pathogenic bacteria (like salmonella) by poultry feed.
  • Improves microbial balance: 
    • By acidifying the crop and stomach, the birds start to produce more lactobacillus and will develop a healthy and stable microflora.
Acidifying feed is only possible when you mix your own feed, or when you ask your feed producer (feed mill)  to add it. The advantage of acidifying trough feed is that you only have to think of it when preparing the feed. If this is not possible at your farm, for instance because you use a commercial pelleted feed, than you can acidify the drinking water. Acidifier through the drinking water should be added daily. When the drinking water is acidified, it is no longer possible to administer other medicines via the drinking water.

How to acidify drinking water? 

To acidify drinking water, only uncoated acidifiers can be used. As explained above, acidifying drinking water can support the digestion of the animal. It can also help to reduce the organic contamination of the drinking water.  When acidifying drinking water for poultry, the best results are obtained by a pH of the drinking water between 3,8 and 4. Advances of acidifying drinking water:
  • Reduces pH of the drinking water:
    • Reduces spread of pathogenic bacteria via the drinking water. Drinking water is an important source of spread of pathogenic bacteria (like salmonella) on a poultry farm.
    • Bird’s water intake is 1,5-2 times that of feed intake, so a lower dosage of acid in the drinking water can be used compared to feed to achieve the same dosage within the bird.
  • Supports digestion 
    • Low pH in upper digestive or entire digestive system may improve protein digestibility.
    • Improved digestibility of minerals and trace elements like Ca, P, Zn and Mg.
  • Improves microbial balance: 
    • By acidifying the crop and stomach, the birds start to produce more lactobacillus and will develop a healthy and stable microflora.
Caution: When using drinking water medicines, always make sure your drinking water lines are clean before and after use. This is extra important when you use acids and/or essential oils, because they can have an effect on the biofilm in the drinking water lines, causing clogging. Always measure hardness and pH of your drinking water first, so you know which dosage of the acid you need. Read more about how to improve the water quality.

Kepro solutions to help you acidifying drinking water or feed
At Kepro we are here to help you further to optimize animal health with several acidifiers:  

For drinking water:
For feed: Keprofix Oral
Indications Keprofix Oralf28b96a6-5da5-4f3b-a100-4d16be7cda32.jpg
  • As an effective alternative for antibiotic growth promoters to achieve the target performances in poultry.
  • To prevent bacterial diseases in poultry, like E. Coli  infections.
  • During diseases or in the treatment of animals recovering from disease, because of the...

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