End to antibiotic growth promoters?
ALTERNATIVES to growth pro-moters could mean poultry producers could stop dosing with antibiotics.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA, have developed two alternatives to antibiotic growth promoters. One is an antibody supplement which blocks the action of appetite-suppressing chemicals; the other is a fatty acid which increases chicken growth rates.
According to a report in New Scientist, Jan 15, the antibody supplement produces growth gains similar to those given by antibiotics – up to 3-5%.
But making these antibodies is a complicated procedure. Chickens are injected with small fragments of chemical compound – peptides – which attach themselves to larger carrier molecules. Antibodies are then secreted next to chemicals which communicate between nerve cells – neurotransmitters – before finding their way into egg yolks.
One US company, DCV of Wilmington, Delaware, has formulated a way of collecting the yolk without changing the antibodies character. Yolks can then be powdered and added to chicken feed in small quantities.
Other research at the University of Wisconsin is working on another feed additive, conjugated linoleic acid. This is a fatty acid produced by bacteria in the stomachs of ruminants and is believed to possess anti-cancer properties for humans. It also increases growth rates in chickens by blocking chemical messengers that cause muscle wasting.
According to the report, DCV is preparing to launch the antibody additive – Ovation – in the US and will soon be conducting European trials. A Minnesota-based company, Conlinco, is marketing conjugated linoleic acid. *