Researchers Explore Potential of Using Yeast in Feed to Displace Antibiotics

Farmscape for February 20, 2024

Full Interview 13:07 Listen

Researchers with VIDO are exploring the potential of using modified brewer’s yeast in place of antibiotics in the rations of young piglets. Researchers with the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization in partnership with Renaissance Bioscience with funding provided by the Saskatchewan Agriculture Development Fund are exploring the potential of using yeast to deliver antimicrobial peptides and essential amino acids to the gut of the pig. Dr. Heather Wilson, a Research Scientist with VIDO and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and the School of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan, says the goal is to develop feed supplements that will attack bacteria and viruses in the gut without the risk of antimicrobial resistance.

Quote-Dr. Heather Wilson-Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization:
Yeast is already used as a feed supplement so what we’re doing is using the yeast as a feed supplement but we’re also putting in a protein on the surface of the yeast so that the yeast, once it travels from the mouth to the stomach to the small intestine, it will attach itself to the wall of the small intestine. It’ll stay there for a couple of hours and it’ll eventually be degraded but, in the meantime, it’s localised to the small intestine and then it will secrete these antimicrobial peptides which we hope will improve piglet health, keep them nice and healthy, especially during the stressful time when piglets are going from having mother’s milk to weaning.

It tends to be a very stressful time for pigs so if we can give them a little something extra to help their intestines to remain healthy it can increase their growth which will eventually lead to their better wellbeing and hopefully they’ll gain weight faster and so it’ll be better for the producers as well.

Dr. Wilson notes this work is in its early days and will take a few years to yield results. To learn more about this work email

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