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Can probiotics deliver consistent performance benefits in grower-finishers?

April 2016

Across all studies, BIOPLUS® YC supplementation significantly improved weight gain and feed conversion, making it a smart choice for producers seeking consistent performance benefits.

There are many individual studies demonstrating the benefits of microbial feed additives in swine production. But can they deliver these benefits consistently?

This is one of the main questions we get from our customers, who want to make smart choices for their animals and their businesses.

At Chr. Hansen, it’s also one of the top questions on our minds, for as every scientist knows, study results must be reproducible to be valid.

That’s why we decided to put BIOPLUS® YC—a microbial feed additive containing unique strains of Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus licheniformis—to the test in a statistical meta-analysis of eight European studies in grower-finisher pigs, with similar protocols and trial conditions.

The results are compelling. Across all studies, BIOPLUS® YC supplementation significantly improved weight gain and feed conversion in fattening pigs, making it a smart choice for producers seeking consistent performance benefits.

Study design

The studies, which were sponsored by Chr. Hansen and directed by Pen & Tec Consulting, were conducted in a total of 3,590 pigs in 288 pen replicates in seven EU countries (Table 1).

Table 1. Study Snapshot

Total studies


Total pigs

3,590 (mixed male/female)

Study locations

Poland, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, Greece

Study durations

70-115 days


Basal feed (pellet, meal or liquid) ± BioPlus® YC (400 g/ton feed)


Weight gain, feed intake, feed conversion

In each study, all pigs were fed one of three nutritionally adequate diets (pellet, meal or liquid) typical to the geographic area and season. Half of the animals in each study also received BIOPLUS® YC at recommended minimum concentrations (400 g/ton feed, or 1.28 x 109 CFU/kg), and the other half served as control.

Investigators measured average daily weight gain (ADG), average daily feed intake (ADFI) and feed conversion ratio (FCR). The duration of the studies varied between 70 and 115 days.


A meta-analysis of results from all studies shows that pigs fed BIOPLUS® YC gained significantly more weight (+3%) compared to the control groups. Probiotic supplementation also significantly improved FCR (-3.2%) (Table 2).

Table 2. Effect of BioPlus® YC on performance of grower-finisher pigs

Test group

ADG, g/pig

ADFI, g/pig






BioPlus® YC




Values with different superscripted letters within a column indicate statistically significant differences (P≤0.05).

Maximum flexibility

The performance improvements observed in these studies reflect the synergistic modes of action of the B. subtilis and B. licheniformis strains in BIOPLUS® YC. Previous studies have shown that the two strains work together to increase feed digestibility, while improving intestinal integrity and function. The result is increased availability and uptake of energy and nutrients, leading to improved weight gain and feed conversion.

Also worth noting is that results were similar, regardless of whether pellet, meal or liquid feed was used. Unlike many other probiotic strains, the Bacillus spores in BIOPLUS® YC are highly heat-stable, so they can withstand the high temperatures of pelleting, without compromising efficacy.

This gives producers and nutritionists the ability to use the product in any feed type, with consistent and significant results.

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