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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Livestock Issues Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #300986

Research Project: Improving Immunity, Health, and Well-Being in Cattle and Swine

Location: Livestock Issues Research

Title: Alternative antimicrobial supplements that positively impact animal health and food safety.

item Broadway, Paul - Texas Tech University
item Carroll, Jeffery - Jeff Carroll
item Callaway, Todd

Submitted to: Agriculture, Food and Analytical Bacteriology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/25/2014
Publication Date: 4/15/2015
Citation: Broadway, P.R., Carroll, J.A., Callaway, T.R. 2014. Alternative antimicrobial supplements that positively impact animal health and food safety. Agriculture, Food and Analytical Bacteriology. 4:109-121.

Interpretive Summary: Antibiotic usage in meat animal production is a hotly debated issue in the livestock industry that has acquired more attention as consumers seek to place more “natural” and “safer” products on their table. Consumer perception can greatly influence food animal production as has been recently observed for some common food production practices; such as lean finely textured beef (“pink slime”) which was removed from meat formulations of producers due to negative media attention and consumer perception. As more increasingly negative attention surrounds the use of antibiotics in livestock production, and as consumers increase the pressure for future legislation regarding livestock production practices, more research and product development is needed to find suitable alternatives to the use of antibiotic supplemented feed for growth promotion and health benefits to meet the demand of an ever growing and evolving consumer population. There are many currently available or near-market ready, products that can assist livestock producers in the control of bacterial populations within their animals to assist in the maintenance of growth and production performance parameters, while simultaneously improving the safety of food products for the consumer. Many factors must be taken into consideration when selecting a particular product as an alternative to antibiotics, and there are advantages and limitations to each product. Therefore, producers must select product(s) that best suit their specific operational needs and are economically feasible.

Technical Abstract: Antibiotic usage is a common practice in the livestock industry that has progressively gained attention from consumers of livestock products in regard to human and environmental health. Specifically, sub-therapeutic usage of antibiotics and the belief that prophylactic supplementation leads to antimicrobial resistance are the reasons that have led to this consumer perception. Antibiotics directly and indirectly affect the livestock industry by treating illness, promoting the overall health of the animal, and in some cases enhance production parameters such as growth and profitability. Recently, a vast array of antibiotic alternatives have been introduced and researched to provide the producer with a product that will positively impact animal health and decrease antibiotic usage. Some of these innovative antibiotic alternatives include direct fed microbials (DFM), yeast extracts, bacteriocins, and bacteriophages, and acids. Many of these products have the ability to promote animal health and improve growth performance, and some of these compounds may additionally enhance food safety through pre-harvest pathogen reduction. Antibiotic alternatives may be necessary tools for livestock production should legislation arise that inhibits prophylactic usage of conventional antibiotics, while also appealing to shifting consumer demands. Furthermore, these alternatives can be used as an additional supplement to current practices and strategies in livestock production to maximize the potential to enhance both animal health and growth performance.