Probiotics are live microbial feed supplements, which beneficially affect the host by improving its intestinal microbial balance. This activity is also called support of the balance of the intestinal microflora. In a narrower sense, the term probiotics is confined to products for stabilising the intestinal microflora which consist of one or few, well defined strains of micro-organisms.
The micro-organisms used in human nutrition and medicine are also called probiotics, although, in contrast to animal nutrition, they may comprise both live and inactivated micro-organisms .
Historically, bacteria have served man very well in agriculture and nutrition. Well known examples are the production of silage, fermented cabbage and sour milk products such as yoghurt and cottage cheese. Probiotic therapy is dated back over 100 years to Russian biologist Eli Metchinoff, who studied the high life expectancy of Cossacks in Bulgaria. He found this was due to high consumption of fermented milk products and he named the micro-organism relevant for the fermentation Bacillus bulgaricus, later reclassified as Lactobacillus bulgaricus
There was little interest in probiotics for a long period and it was not until the 1960s and 1970s before they were rediscovered for human and animal nutrition.
Today we have a wide range of defined strains of probiotics belonging to the groups of lactic acid bacteria, bacillus spores and yeasts.
Probiotics work by influencing the digestive microflora of the host animal in a beneficial way. They develop the activity exclusively in the digestive tract. Here they in turn can suppress various pathogens by competitive exclusion, reduce the risk of intestinal disease, and inhibit toxins which originate from food. This results in modulation of immunity, increased tolerance to different foods, immunity enhancement and an increase in nutrient absorption.
In poultry, probiotics are used mainly to help ensure health status by maintaining the digestive microbial balance and reducing potential pathogenic bacteria which may have an effect of improving performance and productivity [growth, increase in egg production and feed conversion]. Buy Poultry Zing Now
In cattle, the use of probiotics has the main purpose of preventing and combating digestive disorders [especially diarrhoea in livestock during lactation] and to stimulate activities to ruminal organisms which helps maintain health and improve productive performance.
Animal husbandry has entered the era when the use of antibiotics and other pharmaceutical products is increasingly unwelcome.