The addition of direct-fed microbes (DFM) as a means to improve livestock health and productivity has attracted considerable interest over the last 15 years.
Of particular interest in DFM is the elimination or reduction of the use of low-dose antibiotics in cattle production. This increased attention to direct-fed microbial resources has led to tremendous research efforts.
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These efforts have led to conflicting reports. Despite the differences in the design of these studies, one of the main reasons for the lack of consistency may be due to the differences in the experimental immune challenges involved in evaluating the addition of DFM.
Given the challenges of experimental immunity, there is strong evidence that DFM supplementation can affect the immune response, overall health, and productivity of livestock.
In recent years, the trade in direct microbial feeding (DFM) has increased significantly for all livestock sectors (cattle, pigs, and poultry). The main reason for this expansion of DFM is the replacement of low-dose antibiotics (LDA).
The use of LDA to improve animal health in agriculture and animal husbandry has been a common practice for more than 20 years. LDA is used to improve the overall health of livestock. These enhanced health benefits are weight gain (WM) and increased eating efficiency.