Probiotics For Nonruminant Animals

The original application of probiotics in the nonruminant animal was as prophylactics for the prevention of intestinal disease, although they have also found application as treatments to accelerate the reestablishment of the intestinal microflora after illness or antibiotic treatment.[3] They are generally of limited use in the treatment of active infection. The probiotic is defined as a live microbial supplement that enhances gut health or improves gut function. However, wider-ranging improvements on health and growth in nonruminant animals have been reported. These effects are outside the original intention of the probiotic principle, but may arise naturally as a consequence of improved intestinal function. As the intestine constitutes an enormous drain on the energy and protein resources of any animal,[4] any improvement in the efficiency of this organ will have noticeable effects on the overall health and growth of the animal. Many studies have demonstrated that probiotic preparations are capable of producing improvements in growth and in feed-conversion efficiency comparable to those obtained with antibiotic growth promoters when applied to pigs, although the beneficial effects are generally most marked in the first few weeks after weaning. However, the improvements obtained with probiotics have been found to be less consistent than those obtained with antibiotics when applied to both pigs and poultry.[5]

The principal bacterial genera applied as probiotics for nonruminant animals are Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, and Bacillus. Generally, those species isolated from intestinal contents or faecal materials are the most effective. Yeast-based probiotics do not appear to provide significant benefits to the intestinal function of the pig, although there are indications that yeasts may have some influence on microbial fermentation in the caeca of hens. Overall, the application of probiotics in the non-ruminant has proved effective in improving intestinal health, although the response of individual animals can be variable. Improvements in growth are highly variable and probably occur as a consequence of improved intestinal efficiency.

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