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Probiotics may help guard against foot-and-mouth disease

Mar 06,2017
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Pigs at the Doozy Pork farm eat feed mixed with probiotics. [ANIMAL MOLECULAR GENETICS & BREEDING CENTER]
Probiotics may be the solution to prevent foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks among livestock, as a farm that fed probiotics to its pigs remains unscathed.

In 2014, the Doozy Pork farm in Jeonju, North Jeolla, started feeding their 10,000 pigs lactobacillus, a type of probiotic bacteria, in their feed and water, even making use of probiotics in the disinfection and disposal of swine manure and wastewater. As a result, the pigs’ vital functions and immune system were strengthened. In the last three years at this farm, there was not even a single pig that fell victim to foot-and-mouth disease or diarrheal afflictions in spite of the disease appearing 20 kilometers (12 miles) away in Jeongeup, North Jeolla.

While the introduction of probiotics has seemingly reduced the stress levels of the pigs, this has also had the fortunate consequence of raising the quality of the meat on this farm, as it now contains an additional 10 percent of beneficial omega-3 and organic unsaturated fats than regular pigs.

“Through several years of trial and error,” said Yun Jin-won, 51, director of Doozy Pork, “we have refrained from using disinfectants entirely for the last three years and instead have constructed a non-antibiotics probiotics system,” adding that, “Compared to regular pigs, the meat is softer and we are producing a high quality pork.”

In 1908, probiotics began to receive attention when Russian scientist Ilya Mechnikov was awarded a Nobel Prize for discovering the Bulgarian people’s secret to longevity, the ingestion of lactobacillus in fermented milk.

As foot-and-mouth disease continues to spread despite the inoculations of livestock, probiotics and benign microorganisms are enjoying fresh attention as a preventative measure.

Various studies verified pigs that were fed probiotics had no trace of foot-and-mouth disease or the usual diarrheal illnesses.

Furthermore, it was discovered that the utilization of microorganisms can limit the stench of manure. Park Seong-gu, the head of a pig farm in Gochang County, North Jeolla, got together with his neighbors and, after utilizing microorganisms in the disposal of wastewater and manure, the stench was eliminated within six months.

When the rest of the country was afflicted with foot-and-mouth disease and avian influenza in 2011, Gwangju, Gyeonggi, remained a safe zone after developing a mix of citric acid and microorganisms in the previous year. Gwangju submitted an application for a patent on the microorganism cocktail in 2011 and the results were seen this year when Gwangju remained untouched during the worst of avian influenza.

The Rural Development Administration’s Animal Molecular Genetics & Breeding Center scheduled on-site verification on farms and with the collaboration of professors of microbiology, animal husbandry and veterinary medicine at Chonbuk National University, Dankook University and Seoul National University, is formulating a biological preventative system for livestock farmers in order to curtail the spread of sicknesses such as foot-and-mouth and avian influenza.

“Because it is impossible to perfectly block the cycle of disease at the sites of animal husbandry,” said Lee Hak-gyo, leading the center, “there must be a variety of resolutions tested, and finding a precise direction is a shortcut to securely and continuously producing livestock products.” Lee stressed, “The establishment of a biological defense system by making use of beneficial microorganisms is the most effective resolution.”

“Use of beneficial microorganisms in conjunction with vaccines will strengthen the livestock’ immune system,” said Huh Jin, professor of veterinary medicine at Chonbuk National University. “The government injected 16 billion won ($14 million) to establish a microbiology industry support center for agriculture and livestock in Jeongeup, North Jeolla to guarantee the economic competitiveness of farms using microorganisms.”

BY LEE EUN-JI [hwang.hosub@joongang.co.kr]