Probiotics & Prebiotics
By Malcolm Green
This article explains what probiotics and prebiotics are and how they
can be used to help prevent digestive infections, improve chick growth
and health and often replace antibiotics as treatments for certain
The digestive system of birds is very easily upset. Any slight stress
causes a reduction in the blood supply to the gut. The biochemical
conditions then change reducing the effectiveness of the gut and
increasing the risk of infection by harmful bacteria. Keeping the gut
topped up with beneficial digestive bacteria keeps the bad bugs under
control and ensures that as much of the food as possible is actually
absorbed into the bloodstream. This is the job of a probiotic.
We have two different probiotics,
Potent Brew which is a very strong and fast acting liquid and
BioPlus which is a freeze dried probiotic with added vitamins,
electrolytes and herbal extracts.
Many breeders and vets have now demonstrated to themselves the
superiority of our liquid probiotic
Potent Brew over the traditional, freeze dried probiotics.
Potent Brew works so well because it contains bacteria that act
immediately they get into the gut (they don't have to rehydrate
themselves like dried probiotics do) and it also contains enzyme
components for active food digestion. However only buy
Potent Brew in small quantities, as it is a live product with a
short shelf life (generally 3-4 months).
.In pet birds, it is not advisable to give
Potent Brew too frequently (no more than once a week unless you
have a specific problem i.e. gut infection). This is because
Potent Brew can help bring birds into breeding condition which
in a pet can be manifested by aggression.
If you wish to give a probiotic on a regular basis, we recommend that
BioPlus rather than
Potent Brew. Whilst not as effective or fast acting,
BioPlus has a 2 year shelf life and contains a prebiotic (see
below) that conditions the gut environment to favour the friendly
BioPlus should be used two to three times a week to ensure that
your bird is well protected from digestive disorders.
If your bird had been on antibiotics, it is vital that you use a
probiotic after the course has been finished. Antibiotics are designed
to kill bacteria and this leaves your birds' gut flora depleted, if not
detroted altogether. At this point, there is as much chance of the bad
bacteria from colonizing the gut as there is the friendly ones. By using
a probiotic such as
Potent Brew or
Bioplus you can ensure that the bacteria going into your bird's
digestive system are the right ones.
Prebiotics are generally herbal extracts. They act by altering the
gut environment to favour beneficial bacteria and create a less
attractive gut environment for disease causing organisms. Many pre-biotics
actively attack dangerous organisms (the garlic extract in
BioPlus is a good example as is our
Flourish technology). The
Flourish herbs also stimulate the immune system so again
reinforcing the bird's ability to fight off infections.
We started using prebiotics (and immuno-stimmulants) in breeder
ProBoost SuperMax) to help early chick growth and health. We
have been so impressed by the results that we have now extended their
use into sick bird products (Survive
Special Needs Diet) and are now introducing "healthy bird"
products with this wonderful ingredient too.
Antibiotics are generally drugs which, in many countries, are only
available from a veterinary surgeon. In the past inappropriate use of
these powerful drugs has led to the development of many resistant
strains of germs. So now we find many diseases simply don't respond to
the drugs we have relied on for so many years.
Having said that there are times when appropriate drugs are effective
and you should always consult your veterinary surgeon about these issue.
Because antibiotics are indiscriminate they will kill beneficial
bacteria as well as the bad guys. So we always recommend the use of a
probiotic after antibiotic therapy. Using a probiotic and antibiotic
together should only be done with your vet's guidance as the two
Prebiotics can safely be used with antibiotics. They will enhance the
performance of the drugs as will nutritional support from products like
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The Birdcare Company
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