DOI: 10.1111/avj.13314 ISSN: 0005-0423

Alternatives to conventional antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of commonly occurring diseases in feedlot cattle

PMV Cusack
  • General Veterinary
  • General Medicine

Antibiotic‐resistant bacteria are a problem in human medicine. The development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria in feedlot cattle could have negative effects on their health and welfare and there is a theoretical possibility of transmission of antibiotic‐resistant bacteria from food animals to humans. Alternatives to conventional antibiotics in feedlot health management could reduce the selective pressure for the development of antibiotic resistance. This review assesses the evidence supporting potential alternatives to conventional antibiotics in the prevention and treatment of diseases in feedlot cattle, including nitric oxide, plant extracts, supplemental yeast or yeast products, bacterial probiotics, organic acids, bacteriophages and non‐specific immunostimulants. Further research is warranted with lactate utilising bacteria, the organic acid malate, bacteriophages and the non‐specific immunostimulants β‐1,3 glucan and those based on pox viruses. However, none of the alternatives to conventional antibiotics investigated in this review have sufficient supporting evidence to date to justify their use with feedlot cattle. Frequently, statistically weak results and studies without negative controls are cited as support for similar studies. The health and welfare of feedlot cattle are dependent on the use of products that have robust supporting data to ensure efficacy and to avoid adverse outcomes.

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