What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are cultures of live good microorganisms which, after ingestion, can lead to health benefits and other positive outcomes for the animal or human consuming them.
Health benefits will depend very much on the type and strain of probiotic microorganism being administered, but current applications are predominantly to help prevent undesirable or pathogenic microorganisms from establishing in the gut of animals and to help boost the host’s immune system. It should be noted that probiotics may consist of a mix of different microorganism types and/or strains.
Probiotics are used to boost the natural microorganism populations in the rumen or gut. The concept of using “good” microorganisms for beneficial outcomes is not new. Probiotic microorganisms have been used in the food industry for a long time. Eg. yeasts to produce beer or bacterial cultures to make cheese and yoghurt. Such food cultures, besides being crucial in food production, also benefit the person eating them.
When an animal experiences any form of stress, it will impact on the viability of its microorganism population in the gut or rumen and a probiotic consisting of the right microorganism or cocktail of microorganisms may lead to beneficial outcomes in terms of animal health and performance.
Animals, young and old, can be stressed for a variety of reasons, such as: