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FP6

REPLACE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 506487
Funded under: FP6-FOOD

A new, natural approach to animal feed

Scientists and citizens have become weary of the use of antimicrobial compounds that are used to combat disease and promote growth in livestock. A move to replace these with more natural substances could eliminate the threat to human health and ensure long-term effectiveness for our antibiotics.
A new, natural approach to animal feed
Livestock farming has been relying on antimicrobial growth promoters (AGPs) for the last 30 years, a practice surrounded by controversy as these substances are suspected to be detrimental to health. As concerns grow and studies confirm the hazards of AGPs, the EU-funded project 'Plants and their extracts and other natural alternatives to antimicrobials in feeds' (Replace) is actively working to find healthier substitutes.

The project studied 500 samples from plants, plant extracts and other natural materials to use as feed additives for ruminants (cattle, sheep, deer, etc.). It aimed to assess the new substances' impact on animal health, animal habits and food quality. Replace also investigated natural materials that could be used in the feed of other animals such as pigs, poultry and fish where antibiotics have also caused controversy and have been withdrawn.

To help achieve its exciting, far-reaching objectives, the project assembled research efforts from different parts of Europe on the subject, reaching out to botanists, agronomists, veterinarians and consumers. Trials in ruminants revealed that the plant Chyrsanthemum coronarium was effective in producing a healthier fatty acid profile and controlling ruminal Fusocillus (Butyrivibrio proteoclasticus). The project team also found a novel biochemical mechanism to control gastrointestinal parasites in ruminants, with olive leaf proving to be the most effective plant product in this respect.

In addition, three promising samples were identified for pigs, although the trials faced challenges with the obligatory pathogen Lawsonia intracellularis. Tests on necrotic enteritis and Clostridium perfringens in poultry met with positive results, with one sample used in piglets also demonstrating success on chickens. Efforts for controlling Campylobacter infections in poultry were also met with success.

With respect to aquaculture, trials on trout involved two promising samples to control specific fish parasites with encouraging initial results, although more testing would be needed. In the meantime, collaboration with the University of Western Australia on other alternatives aimed at different animal infections revealed yet another important plant that exhibits much potential. Once these plants are tested and become a part of livestock production, Europe's population will benefit from a healthier, safer food chain, more sustainable animal agriculture and a cleaner environment.

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