Life after antibiotics
Antibiotics have been widely used in animal production for many years now, mainly for therapeutic purposes, additionally for prophylaxis, and finally as a growth promoter in sub-therapeutic dosages. In accordance of the Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration of 1992, which arbours the idea, “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty, shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation”, first the developed European countries such as Sweden, and following that the whole European Union area, have banned the use of antibiotic growth promoters, and also have limited the use of molecules that are relevant to human health, in livestock. Finally this year USA has joined the regulation and as well as Far East countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, etc. also are following a strong projection of decreasing the antibiotic usage in general. This positive approach, of course, brings a certain responsibility of such as improving the biosecurity, enhancing management measures, focusing on nutrition, the handling of the digestive tract, the use of functional additives, whilst most important of them focusing on tissue integrity, immunity, reducing oxidative stress, and also aiming to decrease as much as possible the bacterial load, that will be shed to the environment.
When it comes to switching from AGPs to alternative solutions, it is very important that the focus should not be only on the reduction of E. coli or necrotic enteritis (and related coccidiosis), but as well, it is very important to understand the background of AGPs and their mode of action. Apart from the most common known effects such as decreasing the load of E.coli and C. perfringrens, or creating a dysbiosis through the digestive channel to save some energy for the host; directly, or indirectly AGPs had influences on the physiological, nutritional or metabolic aspects as well. Such as nutrient absorption, energy retention, liver protein synthesis, immunity, feed intake, and nitrogen retention as well as optimizing, feed transit time, ammonia production, gut wall morphology, bile degradation products, Fecal moisture, fatty acid oxidation, mucosal cell turnover, fecal fat excretion, etc.(1)
When deciding on the correct and suitable alternatives, it is important to seek and understand that all or most of these aspects will be covered with one, or more additive in order to maintain the target related with the genetical capacity of the animal of growth, weight gain, livability, and FCR.
The use of organic acids, probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes, fatty acids, and botanical extracts can fulfill most of these aspects, when used together with an effective toxin control, suitable vaccination programme, and improved management that also involves biosecurity.
Any kind of alternative growth promotion is directly related to the quality of the management in the farm, meaning the better the management, the better the gains and profits to be expected from the feed additives.
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