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The benefits of using probiotics in poultry production have been widely reported, especially over the last two decades. By improving the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract of poultry, they create the ideal environment for the development of a balanced microbiota, and at the same time stimulate the development and maturation of the innate and site-specific immune system (GALT). This is vital for defense against pathogenic microorganisms and their potent toxins, and allows the poultry gut to continue to perform essential functions – digestion and absorption – that will translate into improved zootechnical and economic performance.
The content of this material is not intended to show the advantages of using probiotics for poultry. Their advantages are already well known. What I intend is to warn that only the right quality and quantity of them can really achieve the expected effects. It seems obvious, but it is not. Even more so when we have the use of probiotics associated or mixed with other components. I will explain better.
With the high quantity of veterinary products available in the market, which contain probiotics in their formulation, it is difficult to know which one is the most indicated for your business (we address the subject here) – and the real effectiveness of each one. As I mentioned above, it is essential to understand that both the quality and the adequate quantity of the probiotic is what allows you to achieve the expected effects with its use. Even because, as living organisms, probiotics require fundamental care to maintain their viability, so that they can fulfill their role and offer the level of guarantee that is in the package insert of a product.
With this in mind, and so that the health of your birds is not in danger, I have listed 3 points of attention to consider when analyzing the effectiveness of probiotics for poultry.
1. Probiotics are not identical
Probiotics are different from each other, varying according to their composition, concentration, and vehicle.
There are three main groups on the market: i) NAGF, which stands for Normal Avian Gut Flora ii) probiotics from multiple colonizing strains, and iii) probiotics from one or more NON-colonizing strains. Each one of them offers a specific protection and assists in a goal to be achieved in the business.
If this is true, their use needs to be accompanied by a specific, customized program that meets the challenges the farmer faces on a daily basis. When we talk about early colonization, it is important to consider the use of probiotics already in the hatchery, because the probiotic bacteria play an essential role in the formation, maturation and maintenance of intestinal integrity, providing balance of the intestinal microbiota (eubiosis), competing with the growth of pathogenic bacteria and the respective appearance of enteric diseases.
2. The quality and quantity of probiotic bacteria do matter
Probiotics are products which contain living microorganisms of one or more species. They can come in different formats: powdered, liquid, freeze-dried, or as complete feed, and can be administered by spray, in the feed, in the drinking water, and even “in ovo”. There are even commercial feeds that already contain probiotics. The presentation and form of administration are therefore quite variable.
As I said above, the most important thing is that they are in the recommended and correct – dosage! In other words, there is a minimum concentration and amount that must be consumed for the probiotics to actually benefit the health of the birds, and for the effects to be as expected. No matter how much a product has in its composition “probiotics”, it is necessary to verify that the quality and quantity are optimal.
3. Probiotics and compatibility
Attention must be paid to the compatibility between probiotics and other ingredients, such as minerals, vitamins, electrolytes, and organic acids, contained in the commercial product. This is because, even if they are coated, they lose their effectiveness when associated with certain ingredients. In other words, even if the level of probiotic described in the package insert is sufficient to provide the expected benefits, this is unlikely to happen if it is mixed with other incompatible components.
Quality level: testing and production
As Biocamp focuses on the production and marketing of probiotics and vaccines for poultry, the company is attentive to the level of quality that its products need to achieve in order to be truly effective. For this, it has a quality assurance laboratory and a R&D (Research and Development) laboratory to reinforce and ensure the quality of what it makes available to the market.
The laboratory has a modern biosafety system to develop its products and the team of specialists that works there makes a strict control of product titration (number of colony forming bacteria/gram of product (CFU/g) for the release of the batches), besides monitoring them in different shelf life times.
Biocamp does not make a product that it wants to sell. Biocamp produces what the customer needs and is committed to delivering quality and safety, with products that provide health to poultry, the environment and the consumer – in other words, that contribute not only to the sustainability of the production chain, but to the planet itself. And it does all this while keeping the focus on financial gains for producers, which are fundamental for their businesses to succeed.
Paulo Martins is Technical and Commercial Director at Biocamp