The gastrointestinal tract is the largest organ in an animal. The population of microorganisms in the tract will out number the tissue cells making up the entire body of the animal. The microflora in the hindgut are critical to the well-being of an animal and provide nutrients (volatile fatty acids, vitamins) and protection from invading pathogens that constantly enter the open ecosystem with food and water. Currently, a large proportion of hindgut microorganisms is unknown (50%). New methods and techniques are needed to identify this large mass of diverse microorganisms. Once this capability is obtained, efforts are needed to follow the changing population of microorganisms on a short-term basis. This will allow us to more fully understand the significance of the microflora in animal growth efficiency and health.

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