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L-glutamine: Possible alternative to antibiotics

The amino acid L-glutamine shows promise as an alternative to antibiotics and growth promoters for piglets.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS, part of USDA) scientists found that L-glutamine fed to piglets produced positive growth and health effects. This news comes at an opportune time in light of the 2017 Veterinary Feed Directive banning the use of antibiotics in swine diets for promoting growth.

ARS scientists investigated L-glutamine as a natural remedy to improve intestinal health of piglets undergoing stress and improve welfare and productivity. In a recent study, the researchers weaned and transported piglets and then fed them a dry-feed diet formulated in 1 of the following 3 ways:

  1. mixed with dietary antibiotics
  2. mixed with L-glutamine
  3. mixed with no supplements

Antibiotic reduction: A selection of articles that explores different areas of animal production that can be optimised to better protect animals, which in turn, diminishes the need for preventative or sub-therapeutic medicine.


  • Piglets on the L-glutamine diet had better growth and intestinal health than piglets in the other groups.
  • Piglets on the L-glutamine diet ate 60% more food than did those in the other groups.
  • And piglets that received neither dietary antibiotics nor L-glutamine had increased intestinal damage, reduced growth, and increased behaviours associated with illness compared with piglets given antibiotics or L-glutamine.

ARS has filed a patent application for this technology.

[Source: ARS]


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