The use of probiotics in animal feed and nutrition is growing with each passing day. However, probiotic companies continue to roll out new products aimed at the livestock market. As a result, choosing the right and consistently performing probiotic for your specific needs is often a challenge. This article aims to provide information about “5 facts you need to know before you buy” so that you can choose the right probiotic for your animals.
Raising healthy animals with less medication is one of the key challenges in livestock farming. Probiotics are increasingly used in commercial livestock farming to stabilize gastrointestinal function and thereby improve animal health and productivity.
The efficacy of a probiotic product not only depends on choosing the right strain for the targeted animal species but also on the right dosage and the vitality of the supplemented probiotic. Finally, the efficacy of probiotics can be variable depending on the survival rate and stabilities of strains, doses, frequency of administration, interactions with some medicines, health and nutritional status of the animal, and the effect of age, stress, and genetics of animals.
Probiotic companies continue to roll out new products aimed at the livestock market. As a result, choosing the right and consistently performing probiotic for your specific needs is often a challenge.
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT PROBIOTIC – FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU BUY
1. Three major forms of probiotics are available for animal nutrition
Microorganisms used in animal feed in the EU are mainly bacterial strains of Gram-positive bacteria belonging to the types Bacillus, Enterococcus, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, Streptococcus, and strains of yeast belonging to the Saccharomyces cerevisiae species.
These strains can be classified into 3 major forms:
1. spore-forming bacteria (Bacillus)
2. lactic acid bacteria
3. live yeast
2. Different modes of action and targeted application
The probiotic forms differ from each other in terms of properties and mode of action. These differences directly impact the selection of a suitable probiotic depending on the intended purpose.
a. Bacillus-spores – for improving gastrointestinal function and growth performance
Bacillus is used industrially for enzyme production. In animals, depending on the substrate, these spores form enzymes and help promote the digestibility of the feed. Due to their enzyme production, bacillus-based probiotics help to improve the performance of the animals in terms of daily weight gain and feed utilization. Another favorable aspect in animal nutrition is that Bacillus – depending on the strain – displays inhibitory effects against specific pathogens. Typically, the Bacillus strains B. subtilis, B. licheniformis, B. amyloliquefaciens and B. coagulans are currently used in animal nutrition.
b. Lactic acid bacteria – a fast colonization of the GIT of young animals
Lactic acid bacteria are widely used in animal and human nutrition. Just think of industrial lactic acid production or “sauerkraut”. That bacterium is particularly beneficial to young animals due to its rapid colonization of the intestine. Lactic acid also has an inhibitory effect on pathogens. It promotes beneficial bacteria and is known to have positive effects on young animals.
c. Live yeasts are beneficial for ruminants – they prevent rumen acidosis and improve fiber digestibility
The probiotic properties of live yeasts are primarily beneficial for use in ruminants and horses, but also for pigs. A special advantage of live yeasts is that they reduce lactic acid formation in the rumen, lowering the risk of the dreaded rumen acidosis.
3. Different strains within a species differ in efficacy
For example, bacillus species are known for their capacity to produce enzymes or to inhibit specific pathogenic germs. However, it is well documented that different strains within the bacillus species differ significantly in their potential to produce enzymes or inhibit specific pathogenic germs. Careful selection and screening of the different strains are the keys to find a successful solution. Biochem has more than 30 years of experience with probiotics to offer well-documented and reliable probiotics for the right purpose.
4. Spores are the survivalists in the microbial universe
Probiotics are available in vegetative form or spore form. Vegetative cultures are sensitive to humidity and heat, while spore cultures are naturally strong regarding withstanding heat, antibiotics, and stomach acids. Since Bacillus has the property of forming stable spores, bacillus-based probiotics are particularly suitable for pelleted feed, which is often used for monogastric species (pigs and poultry).
5. The right and efficient dosage matters
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as live microorganisms that, “when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” Probiotics are dosed in colony-forming units (CFU). CFU is a parameter indicating the viability of a probiotic and can be measured by plate counting. A high CFU level ensures safety and reliability.
At Biochem, we rely on more than 30 years of experience in the field of probiotics. You can be sure that we use only the highest quality products. Along with safety at all stages of the feed chain, our quality management system guarantees reliability and fulfills all local and international feed industry standards. This is our way of ensuring wholesome food from animal sources in keeping with our slogan “Feed Safety for Food Safety®”.
About Dr. Lydia Zeibich
Dr. Lydia Zeibich is an R&D Application Manager at Biochem and received her Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Bayreuth. She researched the intestinal microbiome and how dietary polymers impact intestinal fermentation. Lydia spent her time as a post-doctoral researcher at Arizona State University investigating the connections between gut microbiota and human health. Her work included studies on cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. All in all, Lydia is an expert in the space of Host-Microbe Interactions and animal gut health.