New literature review demonstrates that probiotics can help reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock production

New literature review demonstrates that probiotics can help reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock production
Press Release | May 03. 2022 06:54 GMT

A peer reviewed article by University of Bologna establishes bacillus-based probiotics as a promising strategy to help tackle the increasing problem of antibiotic resistance, while also reducing the incidence of post-weaning diarrhea in pigs by 30% and mortality in broilers by 6–8%.

A just published review of 131 scientific articles evaluates the effectiveness of Bacillus strains as probiotics, and as a potential strategy for reducing the use of antibiotics in monogastric animals. The article, “Bacillus spp. Probiotic Strains as a Potential Tool for Limiting the Use of Antibiotics and Improving the Growth and Health of Pigs and Chickens”, confirms the positive effects of probiotics, also known as direct fed microbials (DFM), in young pigs and broilers. These special microbes demonstrate a broad array of modes of action, including direct and indirect inhibition of potentially harmful organisms.

The scientific findings support the global recognition of the need to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock production, as antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world.

According to WHO, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development today, and antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” are projected to kill more people than cancer by 2050. But steps can be taken throughout society to reduce the impact and limit the spread of resistance through a changed approach of prescribing and using antibiotics.

Results confirm the power of good bacteria
The new review includes potential modes of action, and the effects on the performance and health of pigs (weaned piglets, lactating and gestating sows) and broilers.

The conclusion is that Bacillus-based probiotics could:

  • Favor growth in terms of the average daily gain (ADG) of post-weaned piglets and broilers
  • Reduce the incidence of post-weaning diarrhea in pigs by 30%
  • Reduce mortality in broilers by 6–8%

“Basically, this thorough review confirms the power of good bacteria,” states Kim Muller Christensen, Senior Vice President, Animal & Plant Health, Chr. Hansen, underlining that it includes several strains and products and not only those offered by the global bioscience leader itself.

A testimony to science
“We have been working with natural ingredients to improve food and health for almost 150 years. We believe that microbial challenges require microbial solutions, which in turn enable producers to boost their efficiency and profitability in a sustainable way, favoring animal welfare and less use of antibiotics,” he elaborates.

“This review illustrates the strength of probiotics and lifts the entire category, supporting our data and products towards segments that are still not convinced of the beneficial effects. We believe it is a testimony to the value of scientific research, a classic Chr. Hansen stronghold. The majority of our product innovations stem from our strong platforms in bioscience technologies, including our large collection of bacterial strains, numbering more than 40,000.”

We hope that the review will strike a chord with farmers, vets and feed producers to embrace the benefits of probiotics as a means to help reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock production, favoring a more sustainable rearing system in the future,” concludes Kim Muller Christensen.


Review highlights

  • Bacillus-based probiotics were found to benefit piglet production, restabilizing microbial diversity, counteracting the growth of potentially harmful bacteria and enhancing gut barrier functions. This promotes the health and performance of post-weaned piglets.
  • Bacillus-based probiotics can have a direct effect on potentially harmful bacteria resulting in inhibition, prevention or arrest of their growth and colonization of the gut.
  • In addition to the direct effect on potentially harmful organisms, bacillus-based probiotics are known to promote gut eubiosis, favoring colonization of the gut by commensal and symbiotic bacteria.

The article was published in Frontiers in Microbiology, February 2022, Volume 13, Article 801827.

Authors: Diana Luise, Paolo Bosi, Lena Raff, Laura Amatucci, Sara Virdis and Paolo Trevisi


Chr. Hansen is a global, differentiated bioscience company that develops natural ingredient solutions for the food, nutritional, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. At Chr. Hansen we are uniquely positioned to drive positive change through microbial solutions. We have worked for over 145 years to enable sustainable agriculture, better food and healthier living for more people around the world. Our microbial and fermentation technology platforms, including our broad and relevant collection of around 40,000 microbial strains, have game-changing potential. Matching customer needs and global trends we continue to unlock the power of good bacteria to respond to global challenges such as food waste, global health and the overuse of antibiotics and pesticides. As one of the world’s most sustainable companies, we touch the lives of more than 1 billion people every day. Driven by our legacy of innovation and curiosity to pioneer science, our purpose – To grow a better world. Naturally. – is at the heart of everything we do.

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