Probiotics For Poultry

The most widely studied livestock species with respect to the use of probiotics is poultry. Much of the attention in this area has been focused on the control of salmonella in chickens. Properly selected cultures of probiotics (such as Lactobacillus species) can overcome those lactobacilli found in the natural flora of the birds and exert inhibitory action toward salmonella in the intestinal tract of chickens.[5] Another approach has been to culture the intestinal bacterial flora from a healthy chicken and to use this preparation to inoculate one-day-old chicks in order to establish a healthy normal flora, which helps control salmonella. The problem with this approach is possible lack of consistency in the organisms making up the preparation from one batch to another. Some refer to the use of probiotics in poultry to control pathogens as competitive exclusion. However, the mechanism by

Fig. 1 Lactobacillus acidophilus NPC 747 is effective in reducing the frequency of occurrence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in feedlot cattle.

L. acidophilus NPC 747, have also been shown to increase daily gain and feed efficiency in feedlot cattle.[4] Feeding a mixture of selected cultures of Propionibacterium and E. faecium resulted in a trend toward reduced acidosis in feedlot cattle.[12] Feeding dairy cattle a probiotic containing E. faecium plus a yeast culture resulted in increased milk yield.[13] Other studies also indicate that feeding selected cultures of L. acidophilus resulted in increased milk yield in dairy cattle. The exact mechanism of the benefits provided by the probiotics in improving feed efficiency, growth, and milk production has not been determined.

Fig. 1 Lactobacillus acidophilus NPC 747 is effective in reducing the frequency of occurrence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in feedlot cattle.

which probiotic preparations are able to inhibit intestinal pathogens in poultry and in other animals has not been clearly defined. With regard to nutrition and growth, feeding a selected culture of L. acidophilus to laying hens increased egg production and feed conversion, and reduced the cholesterol level in the egg yolks.[6]


Not much appears in the scientific literature concerning the evaluation of probiotics for other animal species. Whereas there may be probiotic products available today for horses, fish, dogs, and cats, very little scientific research has been published on their efficacy. For those products that are available, host specificity may not have been considered and carefully controlled experiments to evaluate them are lacking.


There is interest in the swine industry to find ways to control salmonella and/or other pathogens during the feeding phase.[7] Not much scientific research has been reported on this with regard to the potential for using probiotic cultures. However, feeding a mixture of B. pseudolongum and L. acidophilus to piglets decreased the frequency of mortality.[8] In the same report these probiotic organisms also increased the weight gain of the piglets. Lactobacilli are very prevalent in the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum of healthy piglets; they thus represent a part of the natural flora.[9] Feeding a culture of L. acidophilus selected for amylase activity to weaning-age piglets on a high-starch diet resulted in increased growth and feed efficiency.[10] Currently, efforts are underway to establish whether or not a selective culture of L. acidophilus would exert inhibitory action on salmonella in pigs.


A major benefit of feeding L. acidophilus NPC 747 (Fig. 1) to cattle has been a significant reduction in the frequency of occurrence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in feedlot cattle.[11] This is considered a very important intervention step in the feedlot cattle industry to reduce the occurrence of this pathogen on fresh meat. Probiotics, including


Probiotics have the potential to provide a number of benefits for livestock as well as companion animals. One strain of one species of a bacterial culture should not, however, be expected to provide all benefits. The major group of bacteria considered for use as probiotics are in the genus Lactobacillus. There are many naturally occurring variations in relative functional ability among strains of each individual species within this genus. The same is true for other genera of the lactic acid bacteria. Thus, strains to be used for probiotics should be carefully selected for the ability to provide the desired benefit in the host animal. Host specificity is also very important for probiotics whose benefits require that they be able to grow and function in the intestinal tract. Probiotics should be tolerant to bile and to other material, such as stomach acids, in the digestive system. To be successfully marketed they should be easy to grow in commercial culture production facilities. Additionally, probiotics must be able to survive production, processing, storage, and delivery to the animal.


1. Fuller, R. History and Development of Probiotics. In Probiotics the Scientific Basis, 1st Ed.; Chapman & Hall: New York, 1992; 1 8.

2. Gilliland, S.E. Enumeration and identification of lactoba cilli in feed supplements marketed as sources of Lactoba cillus acidophilus. Animal Science Research Report. Okla. Agric. Exp. Sta. MP 1981, 108, 192 193.

3. Gilliland, S.E. Health and nutritional benefits from lactic acid bacteria. FEMS Microbiol. Rev. 1990, 87 (1), 175 188.

4. Krehbiel, C.R.; Rust, S.R.; Zhang, G.; Gilliland, S.E. Bacterial direct fed microbials in ruminant diets; perform ance response and mode of action. J. Anim. Sci. 2003, 81 (E. Suppl. 2), E120 E132.

5. Pascual, M.; Hugas, M.; Badiola, J.I.; Monfort, J.M.; Garriga, M. Lactobacillus salivarius CTC2197 prevents Salmonella enteritidis colonization in chickens. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 1999, 65 (11), 4981 4986.

6. Haddadin, M.S.Y.; Abdubralim, S.M.; Hashlamoun, E.A.R.; Robinson, R.K. The effect of Lactobacillus acidophilus on the production and chemical composition of hen's eggs. Poultry Sci. 2003, 75 (4), 491 494.

7. Cromwell, S. Antimicrobial and Promicrobial Agents. In Swine Nutrition, 2nd Ed.; CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL, 2001; 401 426.

8. Abe, F.; Ishibashi, N.; Shimamura, S. Effect of adminis tration of bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria to newborn calves and piglets. J. Dairy Sci. 1995, 78 (12), 2838 2846.

9. Rojas, M.; Conway, P.L. Colonization by lactobacilli of piglet intestinal mucus. J. Appl. Bacteriol. 1996, 81 (5), 474 480.

10. Lee, H.S.; Gilliland, S.E.; Carter, S. Amylolytic cultures of Lactobacillus acidophilus: Potential probiotics to improve dietary starch utilization. J. Food Sci. 2001, 66 (2), 338 344.

11. Brashears, M.M.; Galyean, M.L.; Loneragan, G.H.; Mann, J.E.; Killinger Mann, K. Prevalence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and performance by beef feedlot cattle given Lactobacillus direct fed microbials. J. Food Prot. 2003, 66 (5), 748 754.

12. Ghorbani, G.R.; Morgavi, D.P.; Beauchemin, K.A.; Leedle, J.A.Z. Effects of bacterial direct fed microbials on ruminal fermentation, blood variables, and the micro bial populations of feedlot cattle. J. Anim. Sci. 2002, 80 (7), 1977 1985.

13. Nocek, J.E.; Kautz, W.P.; Leedle, J.A.Z.; Block, E. Direct fed microbial supplementation on the performance of dairy cattle during the transition period. J. Dairy Sci. 2003, 86 (1), 331 335.

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