A dietary yeast extract could be a viable alternative to antibiotics for poultry producers, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service study.

Microbiologist Gerry Huff with the ARS in Fayetteville, Ark., and her colleagues have been studying the effects of yeast extract as an immune stimulant and alternative to antibiotics in conventional turkeys, and initial studies suggest that the extract has good potential as a non-antibiotic alternative for decreasing pathogens in organic turkey production. Non-pharmaceutical remedies and preventatives are particularly needed for organic poultry production, according to Huff, who works in the ARS Poultry Production and Product Safety Research Unit in Fayetteville.

In order to produce a larger, financially viable study after the initial tests, researchers are currently using 800 Japanese quail to test the extract's efficacy against salmonella and campylobacter.