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Probiotics Show Promise as Alternative to Antibiotics

by 5m Editor
3 February 2003, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1170. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

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Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork

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Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council
and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 1170

A researcher with the University of Prince Edward Island says the use of probiotics appears to be one of the most promising alternatives to antibiotics in animal agriculture.

Health Canada is accepting stakeholder input as it considers implementing recommendations contained in a federal advisory committee report on antibiotic use in livestock production. Antibiotics are chemical compounds that kill harmful bacterial, while probiotics are actually beneficial bacteria used to overwhelm harmful bacteria.

Swine Nutrition Researcher Dr. Kim Foote says a number of alternatives show promise but probiotics have shown some of the best results.

"Using probiotics we put the bacteria into the gut of the pig and hope that they are going to outcompete the harmful bacteria within the gut.

Instead of using antibiotics to knock out the harmful bacteria you just overwhelm these bacteria with the bacteria that we do actually need in the gut.

We've seen quite a few positive effects with improved daily gains, feed consumption, feed conversion, reduced instance of diarrhea or reduced severity if they do develop diarrhea. On the flip side there have been studies that have shown no effect with using probiotics. However, there are a lot of different types of bacteria that have been used as probiotics and some seem to be a little more beneficial than others.

It just depends on where you're getting the bugs from and where you're putting them. They have to be in consistent environments or they don't do so well."

Dr. Foote says we need to more prudent in our use of antibiotics because some day they won't be of much use because bacteria just won't be responding to them. She says, while there are several alternatives, probiotics are one alternative that appears to hold a lot of promise.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor