Probiotics – do they have a role in the pig industry?
M. Kenny1, H. Smidt2, E. Mengheri3 and B. Miller11 2
Division of Food Animal Sciences, Department of Clinical Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol, Lower Langford, North Somerset, BS40 5DU, UK; Laboratory of Microbiology, WageningenUniversity, Dreijenplein 10, 6703 HB Wageningen, The Netherlands; 3INRAN, Via Ardeatina 546, Roma 00178, Italy
(Received 5 March 2009; Accepted 28 July 2010)
The delivery of certain living microorganisms in food has long been suggested as having positive health effects in humans. This practice has extended into food animal production, with a variety of microorganisms being used; lactic acid bacteria,various Bacillus species and the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae have been particularly used in the pig industry. The increased interest in probiotics is essentially due to the problem of microbial resistance to antibiotics and following the ban of the use of antibiotics in animal production, probiotics being considered an alternative means to reduce pathogen infection and improve animal healthespecially around the time of weaning. However, there is still a need to clarify the probiotic effectiveness in pigs, and the underlying mechanisms. When assessing the efﬁcacy of probiotics one must consider the particular strain of organism being used and the production stage of the pigs being treated. The reproducible delivery of probiotics in industrial pig production is problematic as maintenanceof viability is key to their beneﬁcial activity, but difﬁcult to achieve with commonly used feed processing technologies. One speciﬁc context where probiotics organisms may be reliably delivered is in systems utilising fermented liquid feeds. Liquid feed may be fermented by the activity of wild lactic acid bacteria or may be stimulated using speciﬁc isolates as ‘starters’; the latter system hasadvantages in terms of reproducibility and speed of fermentation. The farm context in which the organism is used is likely to be critical; the use of probiotics is more likely to result in measurable economic gains in animals living in sub-optimal conditions rather than in those reared in the highest welfare and husbandry conditions. The establishment of a beneﬁcial lactic acid bacteria populationat birth may lead to healthier animals, this may be most effectively achieved by treating sows, which provide an ampliﬁcation step and ﬂood the neonatal pigs’ environment with desirable bacterial strains. In contrast, it may be sufﬁcient to provide a supportive, protective microbiota around the time of weaning as this is a time of major crisis with instability and loss of certain bacterialpopulations.
Keywords: pig, probiotic, perfomance, health
Implications This review provides the scientiﬁc background to the use of probiotics in the pig industry to control bacterial gut infection. Given the European Union ban on the use of prophylactic antibiotics, this approach could have a signiﬁcant positive effect upon the economic viability of pig producers.
Introduction The concept ofprobiotics, deﬁned as ‘live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health beneﬁt on the host (FAO/WHO, 2001)’, was ﬁrst noted by Metchnikov in his book ‘The Prolongation of Life’ in 1908. He ascribed the noted longevity of certain Bulgarian peasants to their high consumption of milk products fermented with
lactic acid bacteria(probably Lactobacillus delbrueckii subspecies bulgaricus). The mechanism by which this happened was supposed to be via modiﬁcation of the community of bacteria present in the colon; Metchnikov postulated that many human ills were due to the overgrowth of undesirable colonic bacteria. A large amount of work on the efﬁcacy of probiotics in human disease has been carried out (for recent reviews see...