Microbiome is a popular term these days, but just how well do you understand what it does?
“The microbiome relates to the microorganisms, or bacteria, that live on your skin or in your body. Our bodies actually have good bacteria that populate the gut specifically,” says Emily Otto-Tice, a swine nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition. “They actually help stimulate your immune system and help us digest the food that we eat, and it's no different in animals.”
The microbiome primarily lives in the small intestine and the large intestine of the pig. Microbes help the pig stay healthy in addition to aiding in digestion of their food as it goes through the digestive tract.
Research shows that we can alter the populations in what we refer to as good bugs and bad bugs, Otto-Tice says.
“There are a lot of prebiotics and probiotics that you can feed that help shift those populations to help improve digestibility of nutrients of the diets the animals are being fed. And they also help boost the immune system,” she says.
Why does a healthy microbiome matter? Otto-Tice says 70% of your immune system is found in the gut, and it's very much a symbiotic relationship with all those bacteria that help keep pathogenic bacteria like salmonella or E coli at bay and keep them from actually creating an active infection in your animals.
Watch for part two next week when Otto-Tice discusses how the microbiome impacts pork production.