The Use Of Direct-Fed Microbials To Enhance Production In Cattle

Direct feed microbes have been used in livestock production for more than 20 years, mainly to increase growth efficiency, milk production, or feed conversion efficiency. They are given directly to animals in the form of encapsulated bolus or mixed with food. 

A number of mechanisms by which DFM can improve gut health and animal productivity have been suggested. Most of the studies trying to identify possible mechanisms of action have investigated the ability of DFM to favorably alter digestion in the rumen, or improving ruminal fiber digestion.

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When studies have been conducted, they have primarily focused on the ability of DFM to competitively exclude unwanted pathogens such as Escherichia coli O157: H7 from the intestinal tract.

The proposed mechanisms for increasing the productivity of dairy cows when fed with DFM are listed below.

-Manufacture of antibacterial compounds (acids, bacteriocins, or antibiotics).

-Competing with unwanted organisms for nutrition and/or colonization of the digestive tract.

-Produce nutrients or other growth factors.

-Stimulate enzyme production and/or stimulate natural bacterial growth.

-Metabolism or detoxification of unwanted compounds (such as lactic acid, mycotoxins, etc.)

-Stimulates the immune system.

Direct feeding of microbes has the potential to reduce dependence on antimicrobial agents to improve health and optimize livestock productivity.