Antibiotics have been included in the formulation of feed for livestock production for more than 40 years as a strategy to improve feed conversion rates and to reduce costs. The use of antimicrobials as growth promoters(AGP) in sub-therapeutic doses for long periods is particularly favourable for the selection of antimicrobial resistant micro-organisms.
A recent survey of 128 countries reviewed the growing restrictions on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters. The survey focused on the 59 countries where restrictions exist or are likely to be implemented, including 28 from the European Union and the top seven countries in terms of livestock production.
In the recent years, global concern about development of antimicrobial resistance and transference of resistance genes from animal to human strains has been rising. Removal of AGP from animal diets involves tremendous pressure on the livestock and poultry farmers, one of the main consequences being a substantial increase in the incidence of infectious diseases with the associated increase in the use of antibiotics for therapy, and concomitantly, economic cost. Therefore, alternatives to AGP are urgently needed.
The challenge is to implement new alternatives without affecting the production performances of livestock and avoiding the increase of antimicrobial resistant organisms. Plant extracts and purified derived substances are showing promising results for animal nutrition either from their efficacy as well as from an economical point of view.
Tannins & other phyto-chemicals are plant derived compounds that are being successfully used as additives in poultry feed to control diseases and to improve animal performance. The solution to combat this growing concern is switching to Biotic Growth Promoters from Anti-biotic Growth Promoters. Lot of research is pouring in now on the use of plant extracts as growth promoters. There is an urgent need to compile the information on these aspects and come out with some practical application by the feed industry. Trials conducted at research institutes may be scaled up to pilot study and subsequently commercial preparations need to be marked.
K. N. Reddy, Natural Remedies Pvt Ltd