Direct-fed microbials (DFMs) have been used in ruminant production for more than 30 years. DFM was originally primarily used in young ruminants to accelerate the formation of intestinal flora involved in digestion and to promote gut health.
Further advances have resulted in more complex DFM blends aimed at improving fiber digestion and preventing rumen acidosis in young cattle. Through this fiber digestion/stomach health result, second-generation direct fed microbials also resulted in increased milk production, growth, and feed efficiency in cows.
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Direct-feeding microbes of red origin, including lactate-consuming species and plant cell wall decomposing, isolate Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens have also been studied but not used commercially. The development of effective DFM in various ruminant production systems remains a challenge due to the lack of extensive knowledge of microbial ecology.
Several studies have used molecular techniques to examine in detail the interactions of DFM with native or ruminant microbial communities.
Advances in microbial community metagenomics and microbial host interaction genomics have allowed the formulation of DFM to increase production and improve health, responses that are often achieved today through the use of antimicrobial agents in cattle.
Direct feed microbes have been used in livestock production for more than 20 years, mainly to improve growth efficiency, milk production, or feed conversion efficiency.
They are administered directly to animals in the form of encapsulated boluses or mixed with food. DFM can improve gut health and animal productivity or enhancing rumen fiber digestion.