Do yeast products work as alternatives to in-feed antibiotics?

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Kharkhan_Oleg
© GettyImages/Kharkhan_Oleg

Related tags probiotics prebiotics Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Saccharomyces cerevisiae, when used as probiotic, or as prebiotic could act as a growth enhancer in healthy broiler chickens through boosting gut health, leading to improved digestive enzyme activities, growth performance, meat yield, nutrient digestibility and flock uniformity.

This was one of the findings of a review, supported by AB Vista, UK and the University of New England, Australia, and published in the Journal of Applied Poultry Research​.

Yeast (S. cerevisiae) and its derivatives, according to the findings, could also serve as a possible alternative to in-feed sub-therapeutic antibiotics in disease-challenged broiler chickens through their ability to modulate immune response and also reduce the effect of pathogenic bacteria through mutual exclusion.

These actions, in most cases, tends to result in improved bird performance and reduced mortality, noted the authors.

Inconsistent outcomes in studies 

However, the team reported that yeast (S. cerevisiae), irrespective of the type (probiotic or prebiotic), often differ considerably in composition, resulting in inconsistent outcomes when used in broiler chicken studies.

This disparity in research findings regarding the efficacy of probiotic yeast can be attributed to several factors, they stressed.

“For instance, the kind and composition of yeast strain, dosage, environment, stocking density, farm hygiene conditions as well as treatment duration are among the critical factors that could influence probiotic efficacy (FAO/WHO, 2002).”

The authors noted other important variables such as storage conditions for the yeast probiotic, route of administration (i.e., feed or drinking water) and feed composition (Line et al., 1997; Gao et al., 2008; Yalcin et al., 2013). “Adequate control of these factors will go a long way to giving more consistent results when probiotics are used as additives in poultry feeding and production.”

Some reports, they added, have shown that yeast prebiotic additives have no significant effects on nutrient digestibility, enzyme activities, meat yield, flock uniformity, mortality, and growth performance of healthy broiler chickens (Yalçinkaya et al., 2008; Munyaka et al., 2012).

Future studies using yeast prebiotic products could be done in a controlled environment to reduce sources of variation and thus give a clearer view of the effects in both unchallenged and challenged broiler chickens, they determined.

“There is convincing evidence that probiotic and prebiotic yeast products can replace in-feed antibiotics in broiler chicken production; however, there is a need for more testing in order to achieve consistency. A combination of appropriate yeast products alongside proper husbandry practices and biosecurity measures could significantly reduce the observed inconsistencies, maximize broiler productivity and pave the way to a global antibiotic-free era in meat production,”​ concluded the authors.

Source:  Journal of Applied Poultry Research

Title: Can probiotic or prebiotic yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) serve as alternatives to in-feed antibiotics for healthy or disease-challenged broiler chickens?: A review

Authors: EU Ahiwe, TT Tedeschi, D Santos, H Graham, PA Iji



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