A University of Manitoba Masters Student says alternatives to antibiotics offer livestock producers an opportunity to improve animal health at a time when consumers are increasingly concerned with what’s in their food.

New restrictions on the use of antibiotics in livestock production have accelerated the search for alternatives.

Faith Omonijo, a masters student with the University of Manitoba, explains any product that has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties and that is generally recognized as safe and is approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency can serve as a potential alternative to antibiotics or growth promoters, such as essential oils, probiotics or prebiotics.

Finding alternatives to antibiotics is highly paramount during this period when consumers are afraid of eating meat due to the issues with antibiotics. Farmers were also worried about the restrictions that Canada and other countries placed on the use of antibiotics in farms. Therefore, I believe finding a suitable alternative that is cost effective and can potentially replace antibiotics will bring smiles to the face of the farmers.

These alternatives can be used for therapeutic purposes and they can be used to improve growth performance. We consider the overall benefit is to increase the profit of the farmers because these alternatives can help to promote gut health, it can reduce the mortality in the farm, it can increase the feed conversion ratio of the animals, it improves beneficial bacteria in the gut, it reduces stress during the period of weaning and also disease conditions. Also alternatives to antibiotics to help to reduce odor in the farm.

~ Faith Omonijo, University of Manitoba

Omonijo stresses finding alternatives to antibiotics is not enough. She says proper hygiene and good management practices are also essential.