Can Poultry Probiotics Withstand Heat Treatment? Pelleting? Extrusion?

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One question that we often receive from customers is whether probiotics can withstand the heat treatments being used in normal feed production practices.

Some probiotic companies claim that sporulated bacteria such as Bacillus spp. and Clostridium spp. are less heat sensitive than non-sporulated bacteria such as lactic acid producing bacteria and Bifidiobacterium spp. This in itself is true, but it is not a complete answer.

Protection from oxygen sometimes required

Bifidiobacterium spp. are obligate anaerobes, meaning they cannot grow in the presence of oxygen, and therefore need to be protected from air in order for them to survive. Certain coating technologies offer protection against the normal heat and steam treatments currently used in feed manufacture, which can have additional stabilizing effects for survivability of obligate anaerobic bacteria. However, these protective coatings need to be adapted to the species, and even the specific strain’s needs, in order to warrant proper protection during the pelleting process.

Extreme processing and application options

Some feed mills and farmers use exceptional heat treatments such as high temperatures and time conditioning, expansion and even extrusion. Extrusion is being utilized more and more due to increasing awareness and requirements in food safety. Under these circumstances, the viability of any probiotic, sporulated, encapsulated or not protected, is severely challenged, but the microorganism is usually not completely destroyed.

In this case, the use of water-soluble probiotics in the hatchery or on arrival at the rearing farm, can be an effective way to deliver beneficial bacteria to birds’ gastrointestinal tracts. An alternative for the future is the development of post-pellet probiotic application, similar to technology already being used for enzyme coatings at feed mills. These represent the most sophisticated methods for delivering live probiotic microorganisms in modern poultry production systems; further investigation and development in these methods is likely to continue to ensure the benefits of probiotics are reaching the birds.

The easier-yet-less-advanced direction is to move to non-viable probiotic microbe containing additive products. Here, pelleting stability is the big advantage. However, not all beneficial characteristics of the live probiotic, for example competitive exclusion through colonization, can be achieved with a non-viable probiotic organism in poultry feed.

Looking for a heat stable in feed or water application poultry probiotic?

PoultryStar® is a well-defined, poultry-specific, multi-species synbiotic product with EU authorization that promotes a beneficial gut microflora, and is available in both water application and a microencapsulated form for feed application which allows the product to withstand high temperatures used in pelleted feed.