Probiotics, known as direct-fed microbials in the U.S., are a well-recognized, albeit poorly evidenced, method of enhancing gut health in pigs and poultry. It involves the introduction of an alien bacteria strain that has been selected from natural resources to withstand the rigors of feed manufacturing and the hostile conditions in the gut. The success of the introduced microorganism depends not only on finding suitable nutrition and favorable growing conditions, but also on successfully competing with similar native bacteria that have had the advantage of an earlier habitat. To me, it seems like a battle uphill.

So, instead of trying to establish a beneficial, yet foreign to the organism, bacteria strain under unfavorable conditions, why not help the already existing beneficial bacteria? One way of doing this is by providing nourishment to them in the form of functional fibers, which are certainly less expensive to use than some probiotics. And although certain purified sources of functional fibers are marketed today as expensively as probiotics, there is a plethora of natural ingredients that can be used as an excellent source of functional fibers at a fraction of the cost.

I have been using probiotics in my piglet feeds for a long time now, but I find the alternative to be not only less expensive, but at least as good.

What do you think?