For years together Livestock has been an in separable part of humanity. The cheapest and most readily available source of protein. The methods of rearing livestock have evolved in leaps; this is clearly evident in case of the poultry industry. The word broiler is now taken as Cobb or Ross and to keep up with the protein deficit of the world new strains are being introduced to cultivate meat faster and in an efficient way.
In this process several mechanisms have been devised to improve the bird, the environment or the final product. This introduces us to fields of Breeder genetics, Nutrigenomics, Housing, Management, Bio-security, Carcass traits, Packaging, Logistics and shelf life, all of which try to improve the profitability and the product quality.
The market is full of different feed additives working on the aspects latter to genetic improvement in breeders. For years antibiotics and specifically antibacterial have been used on a large scale to kick up revenues and cover up management flaws. Pumping in these drugs at these rates has resulted in the pathogenic bacteria being destroyed but also leads to the whole gastrointestinal micro floral balance instability. The era of misuse of antibiotics began. There are several views, as the use of antibiotics in livestock being good or bad. There are several reasons not to use antibiotics in livestock, the primary not being the antibiotic resistance but yes an important reason. Thus, apart from the common facts that using antibiotics may cause parallel resistance affecting human treatment regimes, it is also important for us to understand the foot print that antibiotics leave on the animal world.
The Livestock production arena is an amalgamation of bacterial opportunistic propagation driven entities. The race is already on between the eradication of these bacteria versus survival responses of these highly adaptive microbes. This is especially when we throw a cocktail of antibiotics on them. Every time zapping a bug with a new bullet does end the life of the bug, but also helps the bug to evolve a better armor, one that is non penetrable by the same bullet. But why are we focusing on the bullet and not on the gun? Something that the bug may not even see, something that the bug is never exposed to!! The ideal route for restricting the excessive use of antibiotics is thus to improve the management practices on the farm which include impeccable bio-security. As this is not possible in all circumstances the use of anti-infective and growth promoters will always be used as a preventive and a treatment regime for under performing birds. However, we can always use a better trigger mechanism, there is middle way out. Why not use the natural responses of the bird itself fight the average management practices.
To improve the bird’s immunity and to overcome microbial challenges one should focus on certain specialised feed additives. The feed additive market carries an endless list of antibiotic re-placers which can be summarised in the categories of Acidifiers, Probiotics, Prebiotics and Phytobiotics. However, every trigger is only sensitive to a specific environment, a specific bacteria or a narrow mechanism of action. Acidifier resistance is well documented in recent literature, this with pH as low as 2.5 not proving effective against common taboo bacteria as salmonella. Probiotics work mainly in the finisher stages and farms still have to rely on antibiotics to curb the early chick mortality. Moreover, the probiotics work at variable dose with variable outcomes, some proving unsuitable to certain environments and ineffective in certain strains of poultry. Prebiotics could have been an effective way to tackle the problem only if the cost and dosage would comply. Also there are various supportive nutrients fuelling the pathogenic bacteria in the gut which easily overcome prebiotics. What the industry needs is something broad spectrum and natural. An effective Phytobiotic, and yes they work, but nobody wants to rely on a trigger that differs in sensitivity every time you are in a gunfight. What we really need is an effective and reliable Phytogenic antibiotic replacer which uses only standardised herbal Phytoconstituents as ingredients.