The potential benefits of Natural Growth Promoters in antibiotic-free livestock feeding systems
Growing public concern about the routine use of in-feed antibiotics in livestock nutrition has motivated the development of natural alternative strategies to maintain health and performance status in modern livestock nutrition.
Intensive research has been directed to the potential of Natural Growth Promoters (NGP) to replace
antibiotics. Several substances, including organic acids, immune-modulators, probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes and phytobiotics, have been claimed to be effective in reducing the incidence of gastrointestinal disorders, thereby improving growth performance in different animal species.
The beneficial effects of NGP are mainly attributed to the potential of these substances to promote a beneficial gut microflora which protects the host against pathogens and helps to alleviate periods of stress. Finally, a well-adjusted combination of different strategies will maximize the efficacy of NGP in antibiotic-free feeding systems.
During the forthcoming decades, the global demand for meat, eggs and dairy products is expected to grow continuously. Global meat consumption, for example, is estimated to increase by 2% annually, with most of this increase occurring in developing countries. Thus, the agricultural livestock sector is facing a major challenge in order to fulfil this demand by providing innovative and sustainable strategies for the farmers.
In recent years, the importance of gut health associated with a well-balanced gut microflora has been recognized as fundamental precondition for cost-efficient and environmentally-sound livestock production.
Especially in periods of stress, such as weaning, change of feed composition or quantity, or after antibiotic medication, a stable gut microflora is vital to protect the host against pathogenic invasion.
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