Probiotics and Butyrate: An Alternative Approach

reading time
Article | 07.10.2020

Understanding of the microbiota and its key role in animal health has improved over the years. Probiotics are an example thereof; they play an active role in supporting and improving existing microbiota. However, the importance and characteristics of different segments of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) are sometimes ignored, as well as the corresponding microbiota at those different locations.

When applying probiotics, it is essential to remember that certain probiotics might be better adapted to support specific locations. The hindgut is a great example: the distal part of the GIT is home to bacteria that affect immunity, gut health and overall production efficacy. 

In a normal situation, the hindgut is heavily populated by bacteria from the Clostridium IV and XIVa clusters. Those bacteria produce multiple metabolites, including butyrate: an important short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) with a multi-factorial function. It can be used as a primary source for energy production in colonocytes, besides acting as a cellular mediator impacting processes such as gut tissue development, oxidative stress reduction and immune modulation. 

However, making sure that there is sufficicent butyrate in the hindgut is not always straightforward, as the microbiota's butyric acid-producing bacteria can rapidly diminish when the animal is challenged during production. Apart from disrupting the natural processes, the absence of butyrate creates an indirect competitive advantage for multiple opportunistic pathogens, such as Salmonella. An example of this has recently been described in peer-reviewed experimental research, showing how the absence of butyrate can result in an accelerated Salmonella proliferation.

Different options of supplying butyrate

To counter those effects and make up for the loss in local butyric acid production, supplementing with butyrate directly via the feed can provide some relief. However, recent research has indicated that regardless of which type of feed is supplemented, the butyrate usually does not reach the distal stages of the GIT. Although these butyrate feed additives are thus useful, their benefits come from their actions on different processes at different locations - not from an effect in the hindgut.

This is where Huvepharma's probiotic Clostridium butyricum comes into play, as the probiotic's characteristics and beneficial effects make it well-equipped for the task. First of all, the probiotic strain used is capable of producing significant amounts of butyric acid, thus supplementing the animal with the SCFA where needed. 

Secondly, the C. butyricum strain is a spore former. A spore is a metabolically inactive form of the vegetative bacterial cell and is extremely robust. In this form, the probiotic is able to pass the more hostile environment in the initial stages of the GIT, without loss of viability. Once the spore reaches the right location in the distal GIT, the spores germinate and yield active, vegetative cells. Consequently, butyrate becomes available again at the location where it is most useful, supporting the animal during the challenge at hand.

As an outcome, the C. butyricum strain has been shown to consistently improve animal performance and health, both in research and commercial conditions. Reported effects include increased growth performance, reduced diarrhoea incidence and Salmonella mitigation, illustrating how the probiotic fits in an overall production management plan. All in all, it has become clear that probiotics have a key role to play to contribute to efficient animal production.


References are available on request.


This article originally appeared in Pig Progress, Volume 36 No. 8
global presence

Local support from a global company

Huvepharma® has a distribution network which covers more than 90 countries in 6 continents. Find your nearest Huvepharma® representative today.
Find your local contact
about us


Huvepharma® is a fast-growing, global pharmaceutical company with a focus on developing, manufacturing and marketing human and animal health and nutrition products.
more about us

Change country

The Huvepharma® distribution network covers 90 countries in 6 continents. Please select a country from the list below to see the products and services available in that region.

To view all products and services, select Global from the dropdown menu or click .




North America


South America

Change language

Huvepharma has a remarkable distribution network which covers 90 countries in 6 continents. To offer you the best services, we ask you to select your country.


United States

Click here to visit the local website or close this popup to stay on the global website.

Your browser is out of date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now