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Bacteria-fed livestock could lead to less antibiotic use

Iowa State University is conducting research on the subject

By Diego Flammini
Assitant Editor, North American Content

Researchers at Iowa State University are trying to determine if feeding livestock the same bacteria found in some grocery store products can reduce the need for antibiotics in feed.

"There are alternatives to antibiotics in feed," Stephanie Hansen, professor at ISU said in an interview Monday with Iowa Public Radio. "And that's going to be a broad area of research here in the next 10 to 15 years."

As antibiotics are introduced into livestock’s diet and eventually the human diet, some bacteria can become resistant, spread and can leave doctors puzzled when trying to assess some patients.

Cattle eating

Researchers are testing different formulas and have zeroed in on Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is commonly found in dairy products and can help rid the body of harmful bacteria.

“Acidophilus would have the same impact in a production livestock animal as it would in humans,” Hansen said. “Maybe it’s able to outcompete a bad bacteria for attachment in the gastrointestinal tract in the intestine, so that would be a good thing.”

Essentially, if the bacteria can help keep the livestock healthy, there may be less of a need for antibiotics.

Diamond V, an Iowa-based manufacturer of animal nutrition products, said it has developed a pig feed supplement from Lactobacillus acidophilus and improvements in weight gain, feed conversion and overall health have been seen.

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