Medium chain fatty acids, essential oils, pre and probiotics, organic acids, beta glucans, polyphenols – how do they all stack up as replacements for antibiotics in layer, broiler or turkey production? Our international speakers give us an idea of how much is known about the mode of action of a range of feed micro-ingredients and talk about some of the strategies livestock producers can adopt.
The poultry nutrition experts discuss what is currently known around how antibiotics function and how they alter the microbial population of the bird and how that informs development of substitute additives. Listen to them debate the issues here.
Knowing what a normally healthy gut looks like at different stages of production is critical for selecting nutritional tools that may work to replace antibiotics, said Dr Todd Callaway, a research microbiologist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the US Department of Agriculture.
“I don’t think we are going to find a single product that does everything as well or as effectively as antibiotics have done. We are probably looking at a suite of different products, each targeting a particular mechanism that, in the past, antibiotics have accomplished and maybe some new mechanisms as well,” said Doug Korver, professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta in Canada.
Most promising alternatives should be chosen on the basis of the anti-inflammatory mechanism of certain antibiotics, said Theo Niewold, professor of nutrition and health at the University of Leuven in Belgium.
He said his research has shown that lactobacillus strains of probiotics can be pro-inflammatory and can inhibit growth.
Poultry producers should be aiming to reduce bacterial overgrowth and should choose feed ingredients with high protein digestibility and non-viscous grains in a migration away from antibiotics, said Loek de Lange, head of the poultry nutrition research group at Dutch consultancy institute, Schothorst Feed Research.
Broiler breeder nutrition is also important, he said.
All speakers agreed a lack of biomarker indicators to determine poultry gut health is holding back research in the area of antibiotic alternatives.
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