There is no doubt that organic acids, at least some of them, are the most potent replacements for antibiotics in terms of promoting growth in young pigs and poultry. Or, better put, they are the first element in a comprehensive strategy for antibiotic-free diets for poultry and pigs. Indeed, such was the opinion of experts worldwide as evidenced by the recent Nutrition Survey conducted by WATT.
To my surprise, and contrary to my own opinion as a nutritionist, probiotics came second, while phytogenic additives were down below in the list. It is common belief today that phytogenic additives alone cannot effectively replace antibiotics as growth-promoting agents, but when used in conjunction with organic acids, they exert a synergistic effect that makes the combination quite worth considering.
But why are probiotics being used or considered more essential than phytogenic additives in antibiotic-free diets? Here are my thoughts; feel free to leave a comment sharing yours.
1. Probiotics do enhance overall gut health status in young animals, and this is proven beyond doubt for certain commercial products. New and improved strains of direct-fed microbials (as they call them in the U.S.) continue to emerge offering new advantages at reduced cost.
2. Manufacturers have done a magnificent job promoting them in the past ten years. I can recall the first probiotic products being very variable in their effect and quite unstable during manufacturing, something that caused considerable inquietude among nutritionists. However, manufacturers have made sure through careful marketing to inform their customers of the progress achieved since then, thus securing their confidence.
This survey made me rethink my own nutrition program and a certain probiotic manufacturer is going to receive a call to get an update on prices, but above all, it made me realize the power of customer education and marketing!