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The Use of Probiotics in Animal Nutrition

Author: adminClicks: 154Posted on: 2017-01-10

Probiotics are increasingly used in commercial animal production operations to advantageously alter gastrointestinal flora, thereby improving animal health and productivity.

The major outcomes from using probiotics include improvement in growth, reduction in mortality, and improvement in feed conversion efficiency. Although it is not well defined, the mechanisms of probiotics activity to achieve their role include alteration in intestinal flora, enhancement of growth of nonpathogenic bacteria, forming lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, suppression of growth of intestinal pathogens, and enhancement of digestion and utilization of nutrients.




Different probiotics contain different microorganisms which may behave differently, as probiotics are not single entities. It has been indicated that multi-strain preparation is highly efficient in animal feeding. Finally, the efficacy of probiotics have been found to be variable depending on survival rate and stabilities of strains, doses, frequency of administration, interactions with some medicines, health and nutritional status of the animal and the effect of age, stress and genetics of animals.

In intensive production systems, the nutritional requirements of livestock can be met through supplementation of the limiting nutrients in concentrated form, so that they can produce large quantities of products rapidly. However, the use of feedstuffs that are rapidly fermented in the rumen can create conditions in the rumen that are suboptimal for the fibrolytic microorganisms, thereby impairing fiber digestion. Moreover, nutritional quality of a feed is not only influenced by nutrient content but also by many other aspects such as, hygiene, content of anti-nutritional factors, digestibility, palatability and effect on intestinal health. Hence, the use of feed additives has been an important part of achieving this success.

Feed additives are materials that are used to enhance the effectiveness of nutrients and exert their effects in the gut or on the gut wall cells to the animal. They are used for the purpose of promoting animal growth through their effect in increasing feed quality and palatability. Besides, as they are mixed with feeds in non-therapeutic quantities and protecting the animal against all sorts of harmful environmental stresses. Low levels of additives in animal feed contribute to increase production of animal protein for human consumption thereby decrease the cost of animal products. There are a number of feed additives that are used in animal feeds such as antibiotics, probiotics, oligosaccharides, enzymes and organic acids. The use of additives, make end products to be more homogenous and of better quality.

From the different additives, antibiotics have been widely used in livestock diets during the past several decades due to their therapeutic effects. Antibiotics have been used to reduce the frequency of diarrhea under certain conditions and resulted in improvement in performance parameters like body weight gain (BWG) or feed conversion ratio (FCR). These beneficial effects of feed antibiotics are generally explained by modifications of the intestinal bacteria and their interaction with the host animal, including bacterial interactions with intestinal tissue as well as the immune system. Thus, the intestinal micro biota is not only involved in nutrient conversion along the gastrointestinal tract, but may also affect or support animal health.

Because of the concern that the use of antibiotics as feed additive might contribute to an increase of bacterial antibiotic resistance, the use of some types of antibiotics have been restricted by some countries beginning from 1970’s.




Further, European Union (EU) has introduc ed a total ban on the application of antibiotics as feed additives from 2006 onwards. Consequently, the change in the consumer’s demand for a safe food production coupled with the regulatory issues about the ban of antibiotic growth promoters have ensured a search for natural strategies to modulate gut development and health. Hence, many activities were initiated to establish alternative strategies aimed to preventing the growth of pathogenic bacteria in farm animals, to maintain their health and performance. At the same time as making gains in production and efficiency, the industry has had to maximize the health and well-being of the animals and minimize the impact of the industry on the environment. Accordingly, probiotics, prebiotics, organic acids, herbs and essential oils have been suggested as alternatives to antibiotics. From the available alternative, there is presently an increased interest in using natural feed additives such as enzymes, bacterial direct-fed microbials and yeast to help maintain optimum ruminal digestion of feed.

Probiotics are live microbial feed supplements which beneficially affect the host by improving its intestinal microbial balance. The application of probiotics provides a potential alternative strategy to the traditional practice of sub therapeutic antibiotic use. In relation to probiotics, several studies observed the beneficial effects on animals including growth enhancement and disease prevention. However, there is still a need to clarify their effectiveness and the underlying mechanisms through which they function.

Feed additives may not be put on the market unless authorization has been given following a scientific evaluation demonstrating that the additive has no harmful effects, on human and animal health and on the environment. Authorizations are granted for specific animal species, specific conditions of use and for ten years periods. Any additives used in feed must be approved for use and then used as directed with respect to inclusion levels and duration of feeding. Correspondingly, in feed regulation, probiotics are included in the group of feed additives for stabilising the microbial communities of the digestive tract in both monogastric and ruminant animals.

In this paper, some aspects of probiotics will be discussed. From the many issues, the historical backgrounds, the most common types, the effects exerted on animals and how they function will be highlighted.


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