Antibiotic alternatives in food-producing animals

Antibiotics Alternatives to antibiotics are urgently needed in animal agriculture. The form these alternatives should take presents a complex problem due to the various uses of antibiotics in animal agriculture, including disease treatment, disease prevention, and growth promotion, and to the relative contribution of these uses to the antibiotic resistance problem. Numerous antibiotic alternatives, such as pre- and probiotics, have been proposed but show variable success. This is because a fundamental understanding of how antibiotics improve feed efficiency is lacking, and because an individual alternative is unlikely to embody all of the performance-enhancing functions of antibiotics. High-throughput technologies need to be applied to better understand the problem, and informed combinations of alternatives, including vaccines, need to be considered.

This article discusses alternative approaches to animal (and therefore human) health, such as:

  • Feed additives such as pre- and probiotics
  • Phage therapy
  • Vaccines
  • Mixing additives: potentiated probiotics and synbiotics


Treatment, promotion, commotion: antibiotic alternatives in food-producing animals. (2013) Trends Microbiol. 21(3): 114-119. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2012.11.001


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One Response to Antibiotic alternatives in food-producing animals

  1. Dr. RH Bennett says:

    As someone with over 30 years of work in food animal disease, a great deal of disease control can be achieved by comprehensive economic management. When the metric of success is more than pounds of feed per pound of gain or pound of milk, systems change. In the dairy business the cost of mammary infection used to be huge. Management systems to prevent infection are far far most cost effective than attempting to treat infections with antibiotics once they reveal themselves in clinical disease. That same model can be applied to all food animal production. It is not a question of methodology but rather the attitude and beliefs of the management. We began this work in the early 1980’s and today for a great number of producers the cost of disease is nil as is antibiotic use.

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