Probiotics in animal nutrition and health

Benef Microbes. 2010 Mar;1(1):3-9. doi: 10.3920/BM2008.1002.


The use of probiotics for farm animals has increased considerably over the last 15 years. Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms which can confer a health benefit for the host when administered in appropriate and regular quantities. Once ingested, the probiotic microorganisms can modulate the balance and activities of the gastrointestinal microbiota, whose role is fundamental to gut homeostasis. It has been demonstrated that numerous factors, such as dietary and management constraints, can strongly affect the structure and activities of the gut microbial communities, leading to impaired health and performance in livestock animals. In this review, the most important benefits of yeast and bacterial probiotics upon the gastrointestinal microbial ecosystem in ruminants and monogastric animals (equines, pigs, poultry, fish) reported in the recent scientific literature are described, as well as their implications in terms of animal nutrition and health. Additional knowledge on the possible mechanisms of action is also provided.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiology
  • Health
  • Livestock / microbiology
  • Livestock / physiology*
  • Probiotics / metabolism*
  • Yeasts / physiology*