Researchers at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) are conducting promising research into a natural antimicrobial called lysozyme, which may be an alternative to antibiotics.
Sandra Avant, of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) reported on the website Taking Stock that piglets fed lysozyme performed as well as those given a traditional antibiotic. These trials were carried out at the agency’s Roman L. Hruska US Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC), in Nebraska, US.
Lysozyme is an enzyme with antibiotic properties, and can be found in e.g. tears, mucus and saliva of animals.
She wrote, “In an initial study led by physiologist William Oliver in the USMARC Nutrition Research Unit, ten-day-old pigs were weaned and divided into three groups. Pigs were put on a milk replacer diet that included granulated lysozyme; neomycin and oxytetracycline; or no antibiotic or lysozyme treatment. The 48 animals were weighed after two weeks. The growth rate was similar in pigs given lysozyme compared with those on regular antibiotics, and both lysozyme and antibiotics decreased pathogen shedding.
Avant continued, “Oliver and microbiologist James Wells, in the USMARC Meat Safety and Quality Research Unit, also examined lysozyme’s effects on growth development and gastrointestinal health of 24-day-old pigs. A total of 192 pigs – 96 males and 96 females – were weaned and separated into groups.
“Animals were randomly assigned to one of three groups that were fed either a dry pellet diet containing lysozyme, carbadox plus copper sulfate, or no treatment. After 28 days, analyses revealed that lysozyme was as effective as antibiotics in increasing growth performance, improving feed efficiency and enhancing gastrointestinal health.”
These findings were published in the Journal of Animal Science.
Journal of Animal Science
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Animal Research Service (ARS)