Influence of microbial probiotics on ruminant health and nutrition: sources, mode of action and implications

Rine C. Reuben, Mona M.M.Y. Elghandour, Othman Alqaisi, John W. Cone, Ofelia Márquez, Abdelfattah Z.M. Salem*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Globally, ruminant production contributes immensely to the supply of the highest quality and quantity of proteins for human consumption, sustenance of livelihoods, and attainment of food security. Nevertheless, the phasing out of antibiotics in animal production has posed a myriad of challenges, including poor growth, performance and nutrient utilization, pathogen colonization, dysbiosis, and food safety issues in ruminants. Probiotics (direct-fed microbials), comprising live microbial strains that confer health and nutritional benefits to the host when administered in appropriate quantities, are emerging as a viable, safe, natural and sustainable alternative to antibiotics. Although the mechanisms of action exerted by probiotics on ruminants are not well elucidated, dietary probiotic dosage to ruminants enhances development and maturation, growth and performance, milk production and composition, nutrient digestibility, feed efficiency, pathogen reduction, and mitigation of gastrointestinal diseases. However, the beneficial response to probiotic supplementation in ruminants is not consistent, being dependent on the microbial strain selected, combination of strains, dose, time and frequency of supplementation, diet, animal breed, physiological stage, husbandry practice, and farm management. Nonetheless, several studies have recently reported beneficial effects of probiotics on ruminant performance, health and production. This review conclusively re-iterates the need for probiotics inclusion for the sustainability of ruminant production. Considering the role that ruminants play in food production and employment, global acceptance of sustainable ruminant production through supplementation with probiotics will undoubtedly ensure food security and food safety for the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1319-1340
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 15 2022


  • food security
  • health
  • nutrition
  • probiotics
  • ruminant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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