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Probiotics and prebiotics - what are they? You may have heard of these supplements, and they naturally occur in some foods that you probably have eaten. Probiotics and prebiotics are quite popular for human use and they have also been shown to be benefi cial as an animal feed additive. Boosting the immune system, crowding out bad bacteria and helping with digestion are just a few of the things that these tiny partners can do. More cattle producers are taking an interest in learning about what benefi ts there could be in using probiotics and prebiotics as a feed additive, but what exactly are they, and how do they work? Prebiotics are food substances, like certain fi bers and starches, that can’t be digested by the animal, but can make a great food source for probiotics. Some prebiotics can even stick to bad bacteria in the gut, and then carry them right out of the body before they can multiply. Probiotics are benefi cial living microorganisms, and can be either bacteria or yeast (which is a type of fungus). Although probiotics are found in some foods, they can also be made into a supplement for humans or a feed additive for livestock. Once they are eaten, they live in the digestive system and they can help keep things running smooth and clean. Probiotic feed additives that are formulated for livestock are also called direct-fed microbials. Some of these additives need to be kept cool to survive, so it’s important to follow the storage and handling instructions for any probiotic products. Synbiotics is a combination of both probiotics and prebiotics, This term comes from the word Synergy, which means working together to create a greater effect. There is still a lot of research being done on probiotics and prebiotics, and a lot to learn about the complex and interesting stuff that they are up to in the gut! CARTOON BY SLIM Good for the Guts A view through a microscope of the probiotic named lactobacillus acidophilus. Strains of this friendly bacteria are used as an ingredient in some direct-fed microbials, and they are found in some human foods like yogurt. SUMMER 2016 I WORKING RANCH JUNIOR I 5


summer2016
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