Several Compounds Show Potential for Replacing Subtherapeutic Antibiotics

by 5m Editor
23 April 2004, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1500. 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 1500

A researcher with the University of Manitoba says several alternatives are showing potential as replacements for the low level use of antibiotics as growth promoters in swine diets.

The inclusion of antibiotics in swine diets, usually nursery rations, to promote faster growth has become common but fears that this subtherapeutic use, contributes to antibiotic resistance in humans is fueling efforts to eliminate this use.

Gastrointestinal Microbiologist Dr. Denis Krause says there are three main alternatives in common use now and several others that show promise.

"The first alternative is what we call probiotics. That's basically live or dead bacteria, normally lactic acid bacteria, that we can add to the swine diets and they typically have an effect on the gastrointestinal tract that increases the health of the animals but it's not predictable in terms of how the animals respond in different circumstances.

The second possibility is what we call prebiotics. Those are fermentable sugars that do not become digested in the upper digestive tract. They'll go right through to the hind gut and be fermented there.

They tend to change the balance of bacteria in the hind gut and help the health of the animals. Then there's a fourth group of compounds, typically called organic acids, things like fumaric acid and citric acid, that can be added to swine diets.

What we think happens is they reduce the pH of the hind gut and in that way reduce the growth of pathogenic organisms".

Dr. Krause says, in addition to the three main groups, other alternatives that are popping up include herbs and spices which are being used in Europe.

He says zinc oxide, which has been used in Scandinavia, seems to have a growth promoting effect on pigs but it also has an environmental impact so, even though it's effective, there is a push to eliminate it from the diet.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor