Food Animal Health: No Antibiotics and No Hormones in Animal FeedThe use of antibiotics in agriculture has been an everyday occurrence on most farms for decades. But, for how much longer?

The use of antibiotics for the purposes of livestock growth promotion is being questioned worldwide due to the potential risk it poses to human health. Some countries have already banned the use of prophylactic antibiotics in livestock. Sweden was the first nation to ban the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in 1986 with the EU following suit in 20061 In 2011 Korea imposed a similar ban.2

  • In 2006 the EU imposed a ban on all antibiotics for growth promotion purposes

Other developed countries such as the US, Canada and Australia are under increasing pressure to consider imposing similar restrictions on livestock producers.3 In 2012, the FDA was ordered by a federal judge to take action to stop farmers from mixing popular antibiotics into animal feed. This resulted in the FDA releasing guidelines requiring a prescription for antibiotics to be used only in sick animals and not for growth promotion.4

The current global market for in-feed antibiotic use is estimated at USD$4-$5 billion.

In 2013 the FDA announced it would request pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily stop labeling antibiotics necessary for use in humans as acceptable for growth promotion purposes in animals. This move effectively makes it illegal for producers to use certain antibiotics for any reason other than the medically necessary treatment of disease.5

Medical experts are concerned that the widespread use of antibiotics in livestock is a significant contributor to the development of bacterial resistance to antibiotics.6 Outbreaks of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus auerus) in hospitals worldwide are just one example of the need to protect human health from the development of antibiotic resistant “superbugs”.

The current global market for in-feed antibiotic use is estimated at USD$4-$5 billion.

Traditionally, on farms, antibiotics have been used to treat not only existing illness in animals but also to prevent potential disease and often to increase the feed conversion ratio of animals; therefore improving the efficiency of the farm. From poultry and swine producers to dairy herds, feedlot beef cattle and aquaculture, antibiotics have become a tool of choice for producers. The current global market for in-feed antibiotic use is estimated at USD$4-$5 billion.

A natural, safe and effective alternative

Oxc-Beta Poultry TrialsWith world population continuing to steadily climb the demand for animal protein will grow. The need to improve efficiencies in animal production will remain the top priority for producers and governments alike. Natural, safe and effective alternatives to antibiotics are eagerly sought by an industry, which needs to maintain a high level of efficiency in order to simultaneously maintain profits and protect human health.

Avivagen has developed a natural, non-antibiotic, non-hormonal platform as an alternative to antibiotics in food animals, which represents a significant opportunity for future growth and profitability.

OxC-beta™, a fully oxidized form of ß-carotene, offers a promising alternative to antibiotics in production animals. OxC-beta™ Technology supports the body’s own immune system and under challenge situations may offer the following benefits to production animals:

  • Non-antibiotic method of enhancing animal productivity and profitability
  • Increase innate immune function leading to:
    • Earlier and enhanced detection of disease-causing microbes
    • Potentially arresting infections at an early stage before they take hold, therefore improving productivity
  • In-feed and selected novel delivery forms
  • Gut microbiome effect (acts as a prebiotic resulting in reduction of “bad” gut bacteria and an increase in “good” bacteria)
  • Improve growth, general health & feed conversion efficiency

OxC-beta™ Clinical Trials

Avivagen, in collaboration with its academic, institutional, and industrial research partners is conducting on going applied research aimed at developing commercial applications for OxC-beta™ in multiple livestock species.

The rationale for the applied research program comes from laboratory based work demonstrating that OxC-beta™ Technology possesses multiple immune modulating activities that could be harnessed to enhance productivity in the livestock industry.

Oxc-Beta Swine TrialsTrials with livestock show that OxC-beta™ Livestock can enhance production and health parameters in both hogs and poultry. These findings have been extended to cattle by the results of a recent proof of concept (POC) study that evaluated the benefits of OxC-beta™ Livestock in an experimental model of bovine respiratory disease complex (BRDC).

The results of these early stage studies in hogs and poultry in Canada are encouraging and have prompted further trials in Vietnam and Thailand. Initial results show a significantly improved feed conversion efficiency of 8% being demonstrated in piglets, with an average daily gain increase of 8%, while in poultry a 3-4% growth effect was shown.

In fish (trout) a proof of concept study has been completed which demonstrated enhanced antibacterial activity through support of innate immune function.*

In beef cattle a proof of concept study has recently been completed by the University of Calgary and University of Alberta, Canada. This study aimed to determine whether OxC-beta™ Livestock may be beneficial in the management of Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex (BRDC), a syndrome which affects up to 20% of beef cattle in North America.

The key findings of the BRDC research were that in infected cattle OxC-beta™ Livestock supplementation both promoted the proper immune response and supported the theory that OxC-beta™ exerts pro-resolving activities that may be beneficial in the management of BRDC. Furthermore, on a broader scale, the results also support the application of OxC-beta™ Livestock as a feed-based ingredient that may mitigate other tissue-specific inflammatory diseases.

This results of this study were published in the peer-reviewed, scientific journal The American Journal of Veterinary Research, entitled “Anti-inflammatory effects of retinoids and carotenoid derivatives on caspase-3-dependent apoptosis and efferocytosis of bovine neutrophils”. The journal wrote that OxC-beta™ Livestock could be a novel nutritional strategy that may confer benefits for cattle with respiratory tract disease. Read the abstract of the journal online:

Further studies need to be completed in order to fulfill regulatory requirements and ultimately bring OxC-beta™ Livestock to market for livestock production.

*Data on file.

Bulk OxC-beta™ Livestock is available for commercial sale in Thailand and the Philippines. Please click here for a quote or to place an order, or telephone our head office at 613-949-8164.

  1. Restricting Antimicrobial Use in Food Animals: Lessons from Europe, Microbe, Volume 6, Number 6, 2011, 274-279, Carol Cogliani et al.
  2. Congressional Research Service, Potential Trade Implications of Restrictions on Antimicrobial Use in Animal Production, Renée Johnson, July 11, 2011.
  3. Congressional Research Service, Potential Trade Implications of Restrictions on Antimicrobial Use in Animal Production, Renée Johnson, July 11, 2011 .
  4. Steps Set for Livestock Antibiotic Ban, New York Times, 23 March, 2012, Gardiner Harris, accessed 10/10/14,
  5. Phasing Out Certain Antibiotic Use in Farm Animals, FDA Consumer Health Information, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, December 2013
  6. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Antibiotic Use in Food-Producing Animals, Tracking and Reducing the Public Health Impact, Accessed 10/10/14