Direct-Fed Microbials (Probiotics) In Calf Diets

Direct-fed microbials, known as DFM or probiotics, are live microorganisms that, when fed adequate amounts through food, can improve the balance of gut microbes. Microbial organs that are directly fed are usually divided into the following categories: Bacillic, Lactic Acid Producing Bacteria, and Yeast.

Bacillus based DFM is a spore-forming bacteria. The spores are thermostable and persist at low pH, making Bacillus-based DFM stable during feed processing and gastric digestion. To get more information about the direct fed microbials visit

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Direct feed microbial feed is available as a single species or single strain product, but most commercial products contain more than one species, strain, and even a combination with yeast and prebiotics.

Direct-fed microbial foods such as prebiotics increase the population of beneficial bacteria primarily by increasing the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). Short-chain fatty acids lower pH, reduce enteric pathogens and stimulate intestinal cell proliferation, which helps maintain intestinal integrity.

Increasing the population of beneficial bacteria also controls enteric pathogens by eliminating competition. However, the DFM mode of action appears to be more comprehensive.

Microbes that are fed directly are sometimes associated with increased performance when added to pig feed. Lactic acid-producing bacteria appear to be more beneficial for weaning pigs to support gut microbial balance after weaning, while Bacillus-based DFMs appear to be more beneficial for pigs, improving digestibility.