Saskatoon, Saskatchewan based Prairie Plant Systems Inc. is looking to develop new technologies that have the potential to replace antibiotics in animal feed using health boosting properties of plants such as mustard seeds.
The goal is to develop feed supplements that would stimulate an animal's own immune system to resist infection, Prairie Plant's CEO Brent Zettl said.
"This is the first step in finding alternatives to the use of antibiotics in animal feed," Zettl said. "The long term goal of our research can have benefits for farmers and consumers alike."
The research project received about $101,000 from the federal government.
Zettl said there is a movement afoot to stop using antibiotics in feed. He said that once an antibiotic is approved for human use, there is no regulation that prevent the feed industry to use those antibiotics in livestock feed.
With better science they can design antimicrobial, naturally occurring proteins. "If we tap into that, and have a seed promoting that, then it can essentially produce a healthy gut (in the animal)," Zettl said. "It would mitigate or displace the antibiotics used in feed."
Using the husks of mustard seeds to deliver the protein would be very cost effective, he said. The oil is being looked at as jet fuel and meal for feed.
"It would cost-effective for the feed manufacturers, it would be cost effective for the farmers to grow, it would be cost effective for the people in the livestock industry that would use it because it is considered a waste already," he said.
Zettl said it will likely take about three years to know if it this idea will be an effective alternative to antibiotics.