Livestock performance and feed efficiency are closely interrelated with the qualitative and quantitative microbial load of the animal gut, the morphological structure of the intestinal wall and the activity of the immune system. Antimicrobial growth promoters have made a tremendous contribution to profitability in intensive husbandry, but as a consequence of the increasing concern about the potential for antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, the European Commission decided to ban all commonly used feed antibiotics. There are a number of non-therapeutic alternatives, including enzymes, (in)organic acids, probiotics, prebiotics, etheric oils and immunostimulants. Their efficacy and mode of action are briefly described in this review. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
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