Written by Dr. Kevin B. H. Teh.
Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there
With the rise of large-scale commercialisation and intensification of livestock production, animals are often exposed to stressful conditions, triggering problems related to disease and deterioration of environmental conditions that can result in significant economic losses.
Misuse and Overuse: Antimicrobial agents losing their power
Antimicrobial agents have been traditionally used for prevention and control of diseases in livestock production. The utilization of antimicrobial agents has led to a substantial increase in the use of veterinary medicines. As a result, the development of antimicrobial resistance among pathogenic bacteria has been extensively documented, and the risk of transmission of resistant bacteria from the farming environment to humans is inevitable. There is an increasing interest within the industry in the control of antimicrobial use.
There is help, there is hope
Health promotion and disease prevention programs focus on keeping livestock healthy.
Health promotion programs aim to engage producers and farming communities to choose holistic alternatives and make changes that reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases and other morbidities in their livestock.
It covers a wide range of management and environmental interventions that are designed to benefit and protect livestock health and wellbeing by addressing and preventing the root causes of disease, rather than focusing on treatment alone.
It’s hard to know the answers, when you don’t know the question
With increasing demand for environmentally friendly farming, the use of alternatives to antimicrobial agents in the farming industry is now widely accepted. The awareness and knowledge of probiotics usage has also increased in recent years. Today consumers demand natural products free of antibiotics and chemical additives.
Probiotic 101: It’s all about the bugs, your partners in prevention
For many years, researchers have been attempting to isolate beneficial bacteria from various sources including soil, water and the animal intestinal tract, to control disease-causing pathogens on the farm.
Bacteria of the Bacillus genus are among the most widespread microorganisms in nature, and can be found in soil, water and air. Bacillus constitutes a diverse group of rod-shaped, Gram-positive bacteria, characterized by their ability to produce a robust spore. These bacteria have a wide range of tolerance for salinity, temperature and pH.
Healthy living during stressful times – Prevention works, don’t let bad germs move in
Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus licheniformis have been found to be beneficial for health promotion and disease prevention in livestock production systems. These benefits include inhibiting pathogens from multiplying in the gastrointestinal tract and providing nonspecific disease protection. The effect of these probiotic organisms is achieved through modulating the immune system of the animal, enhancing their disease resistance potential and producing substances that prevents harmful pathogens from forming. Administration of probiotics can reduce the use of antibiotics and synthetic chemicals in the feed.
What you can do – Improving the environment while promoting health
Contamination of various nitrogenous compounds such as ammonia and nitrate has been a serious problem in livestock production systems. In high concentrations, these compounds may be remarkably harmful and cause mortality.
Gram-positive bacteria are usually more efficient in transforming organic matter back to carbon dioxide than Gram-negative bacteria, which would convert organic carbon to bacterial biomass or biofilm.
Gram-positive bacteria, such as Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus licheniformis, are associated with improvement of overall water and soil quality – where they directly uptake or decompose the organic matteror toxic materials in the environment, reducing odors and consequently enhancing the growth rate and general health and condition of the animal.
Invest in health promotion - Know what works for you
In recent years, probiotics offer a viable alternative and have become an essential part of livestock practices for improving performance and disease resistance.
Probiotics play an important role in feed conversion, growth rates, weight gain, immune response and disease resistance of animals. The use of probiotics is not only promoting animal health but also maintaining consumer health and safety.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – Benjamin Franklin