Antimicrobial resistance is a global and increasing threat. Stewardship campaigns have been established, and policies implemented, to safeguard the appropriate use of antimicrobials in humans, animals and plants. Restrictions on the use of antimicrobials in animal
production are on the agenda worldwide. Producers are investing in measures, involving
biosecurity, genetics, health care, farm management, animal welfare and nutrition, to
prevent diseases and minimize the use of antimicrobials. Young animals (piglets, broiler
chickens and calves) are particularly susceptible to diseases and disorders, and the use of
antimicrobials on these animals is therefore relatively high. Functional nutrition to promote
animal health is one of the tools available to decrease the need for antimicrobials in animal
production. Nutrition affects the critical functions required for host defence and disease
resistance. Animal nutrition strategies should therefore aim to support these host defence
systems and reduce the risk of the presence in feed and water of potentially harmful substances, such as mycotoxins, anti-nutritional factors and pathogenic bacteria and other
microbes. General dietary measures to promote gastrointestinal tract (GIT) health include,
for example, the functional use of dietary fibres to stimulate gastrointestinal secretions
and motility, lowering the protein content to avoid excessive fermentation of protein in
the hindgut, and selective use of a combination of feed additives and feed ingredients to
stabilize the intestinal microbiota and support mucosal barrier function. In addition, the use
of organic acids may contribute to feed and water safety. This knowledge, used to establish
best practices in animal nutrition, could allow the adoption of strategies to reduce the need
for antimicrobials and contain antimicrobial resistance

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