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Alternatives to antibiotics as growth promoters for use in swine production: a review


Philip A Thacker


In the past two decades, an intensive amount of research has been focused on the development of alternatives to antibiotics to maintain swine health and performance. The most widely researched alternatives include probiotics, prebiotics, acidifiers, plant extracts and neutraceuticals such as copper and zinc. Since these additives have been more than adequately covered in previous reviews, the focus of this review will be on less traditional alternatives. The potential of antimicrobial peptides, clay minerals, egg yolk antibodies, essential oils, eucalyptus oil-medium chain fatty acids, rare earth elements and recombinant enzymes are discussed. Based on a thorough review of the literature, it is evident that a long and growing list of compounds exist which have been tested for their ability to replace antibiotics as feed additives in diets fed to swine. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these compounds produce inconsistent results and rarely equal antibiotics in their effectiveness. Therefore, it would appear that research is still needed in this area and that the perfect alternative to antibiotics does not yet exist.


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Article made possible through the contribution of Philip A Thacker, Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology, and BioMed Central.

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