On broiler farms, where poultry are raised for meat, antibiotics are given in small doses to prevent infections and promote growth. However, this practice is increasingly being called into question, as many bacteria are developing antibiotic resistance. How else can farmers get their chickens to grow quickly and prevent infections in poultry houses? Dr. Satinder Kaur Brar, a researcher at the INRS Eau Terre Environnement Research Centre and professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at York University, is proposing the use of an organic formulation based on yeast and mycena, a type of mushroom.

The scientist compared the effectiveness of her preparation with that of antibiotics administered to 360 broiler chickens, working in collaboration with Stéphane Godbout from the Institut de recherche et de développement en agroenvironnement de Deschambault, Younes Chorfi, a professor in the Department of Veterinary Biomedicine at Université de Montréal, and the Exceldor cooperative.

After feeding chickens different diets for 35 days, the team members weighed them and analyzed their biological parameters. They noticed that the chickens that had received the new preparation showed a higher weight gain than those that received the antibiotics. In addition, their cholesterol levels were lower and their kidney and liver functions were normal. Moreover, Professor Brar and her partners noted that their formulation resulted in a 100-fold increase in the production of good antimicrobial bacteria in the chickens’ stomachs.

Given these very promising results, the scientists are seeking approval from Canadian government authorities to use their preparation as a replacement for antibiotics. Professor Brar hopes that their product will make its way to poultry farmers and prove as successful as her antimicrobial and antioxidant spice recipe, which replaces preservation agents and can be found in the kitchens of top chefs in Montréal.