Reduction of antibiotic use in farm animals

The use of alternative means

probiotics and prebiotics

Using prebiotics and probiotics to improve the composition of an animal’s gut microbiota can reduce the risk of numerous diseases. In some cases, their use indirectly reduces the incidence of potential pathogens, enhances the immune response, improves overall health and forage efficiency, and promotes growth.

plant extract

Plant extracts are considered safe and effective against certain bacteria and are widely used in animal feed as growth promoters and health protectants, particularly in Asian, African and South American countries. In monogastric animals, it is believed that oregano, cinnamon, Mexican pepper, thyme, oregano, and garlic extract may reduce pathogenic microbial mass in the gut and improve animal performance when used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. However, the impact of these additives on the production performance of ruminants has not been reported.


Studies have found that in-feed enzymes such as xylanases are effective in reducing intestinal lesions and reducing the risk of necrotic enteritis in chickens, as well as reducing the risk of certain diseases such as colibacillosis in monogastric animals. However, in-feed enzymes do not offer a promising alternative for ruminants such as cattle, as the rumen inactivates all enzymes before they reach the intestine.

Antimicrobial Peptides

Antimicrobial peptides are promising alternatives for growth promotion (7% increase) and disease prevention in chickens. Studies in dairy cows have also shown promising results in promoting growth and preventing and treating udder infections during periods when dairy cows are not producing milk. Antimicrobial peptides also act to disinfect the udder before milking, reducing udder pathogens.

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Phytochemicals are plant compounds such as essential oils or tannins that can have an antibacterial and growth-promoting effect. They are used on commercial poultry farms to improve the gastrointestinal health of broilers and reduce coccidia parasites. Phytochemicals can also be used to prevent bovine diseases such as diarrhea and improve digestive health. Here, however, they should be used in high concentrations, which can have a negative impact on the meat quality.

Organic acids

Organic acids such as citric or acetic acid are also promising alternatives for growth promotion and disease prevention in monogastric animals. They work by killing pathogenic bacteria and encourage the growth of certain acid-loving beneficial bacteria by increasing the acidity of the stomach. Studies in cattle also show a positive effect of organic acids on performance and the prevention of certain digestive diseases, such as: B. rumen acidosis shown. As a result of using organic acids in their feeding programs, there was also an 8% weight gain in grain-fed beef cattle.

animal management

Although management practices can be considered routine, many have evolved as specific preventative measures to prevent pathogenic infections and improve animal health and welfare. Management practices that have implications for reducing the need for antibiotics and other drugs focus on manipulating the animal’s environment by avoiding heat stress and overcrowding, providing adequate ventilation, controlling flies and other external parasites, and proper waste management and introduction of hygiene measures to reduce exposure to diseases and to develop methods to improve immunity.

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nutritional measures

There is growing evidence that diet can have a significant impact on the immune system, thereby affecting infection rates and reducing the need for antibiotics. The tips below provide some nutritional advice to help you achieve this goal.

  • The immune response may involve antibody production and cell proliferation, both of which require adequate dietary protein supplementation.

  • An adequate calcium-phosphorus ratio in the feed rations reduces the occurrence of milk fever in calving, which develops during dry periods.

  • Some trace elements are important for maintaining the integrity of the immune system. For example, zinc plays an important role in the formation of both T and B lymphocytes, which are the key cellular components of the adaptive immune response. Another element, copper, is considered an important part of the enzyme systems that protect cells from the toxic effects of oxygen metabolites produced during phagocytosis. It also reduces the severity of clinical signs of some infectious diseases, such as B. Mastitis.

  • Vitamins A, C, and E are also important because they act as antioxidant defenses against oxidative damage and have therapeutic value in infectious diseases.

biosecurity programs

The following are basic sources for formulating biosecurity guidelines for food animal species. However, economic analysis is required to identify the most cost-effective combinations of interventions at different production levels.

  • Locate herds away from potential sources of infection, including other production facilities, slaughterhouses, sales sheds and roads.

  • Erecting fences around farm boundaries and putting locks on doors and windows to prevent entry by visitors.

  • Ban on the entry of vehicles used to transport animals unless they are empty and have been cleaned and disinfected before arriving at the facility.

  • Providing safe loading areas that prevent animals from returning to buildings after being abandoned by trucks.

  • Control of rodent and fly populations, including the use of weed control and gravel borders to discourage rodents from approaching facilities.

  • Ensure that farm personnel do not come into contact with animals outside the herd.

  • Setting a minimum quarantine period for people before they come into contact with livestock.

  • All must shower before entering the farm and provide clothing to wear around the farm.

  • Ensuring pathogen-free feed sources and establishing methods of delivering feed to farms that carefully control access of potentially contaminated trucks.

  • Clean up spilled food outdoors to avoid attracting rodents and birds.

  • Providing safe manure storage and disposal.

  • Dispose of dead animals immediately.

  • Sentinel animals on incoming stock and diagnostic tests to detect infection.

  • Ensure feed, water, bedding, equipment and supplies are free of infectious agents.

  • Testing surrogate herds for the presence of pathogens.

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References available from the author on request.

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