Yeast extract might replace antibiotics in poultry

by Jeff Gelski
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FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. – A dietary yeast extract shows promise as an alternative to antibiotics for poultry producers, including organic poultry producers, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture study. Initial studies performed at the U.S.D.A.’s Agricultural Research Service office in Fayetteville suggested the extract has potential for decreasing pathogens in organic turkey production, but a larger study was needed to confirm efficacy.

Since it is expensive to work with turkeys because they eat more than other birds, the researchers now are testing the yeast extract’s efficacy against Salmonella and Campylobacter in 800 Japanese quail. The current study is being done in collaboration with the A.R.S. National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa.

The yeast extract is found on a national list of allowed and prohibited substances within the U.S.D.A.’s National Organic Program, which means organic poultry farms may use the yeast extract.

For one downside, the yeast extract ramps up certain aspects of the immune response, which may decrease body weight in some birds because energy normally used for growth is redirected toward the immune system, said Gerry Huff, an A.R.S. microbiologist in Fayetteville. Researchers are seeking a balance between enhancing immune response and maintaining growth.

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