In recent years, there is increasing evidence that the high usage of antibiotics as growth promoters (AGPs) has led the development of a reservoir of drug-resistant bacteria in food animals, which in turn poses a threat to human health. With the growing ban on AGPs, probiotics are seen as an alternative in the overall plan to manage the health of poultry.
Probiotics are viable bacterial cell preparations or components of bacterial cells that have beneficial effects on the health of the host. These direct fed microorganisms are useful in the treatment of an unbalanced intestinal microflora and increased gut permeability, which are characteristic of many intestinal disorders. Such bacteria are able to survive gastric conditions to colonize the intestine, at least temporarily, by adhering to the epithelium. The beneficial effects of such strains range from displacement of harmful bacteria such as C. perfringens to stimulatory effects on the immune system and contribution to growth. Animal trial studies have also shown that broilers fed diets supplemented with such a product had weight gain and feed conversion ratio (FCR) comparable to those receiving an antibiotic growth promoter, and also recorded the lowest mortality. In summary, probiotics that are well characterised and used judiciously in a total nutrition platform for poultry helps ensure a balanced intestinal microflora and improves the overall animal health status.
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