Feeding of brewers' yeast derivatives in calves enables excellent start in life

Friday, January 15, 2021

Feeding of brewers' yeast derivatives in calves enables excellent start in life


Petra Bisesti, Product management Livestock (Ruminants), Leiber GmbH, Germany


Due to their immature immune system calves are very susceptible to intestinal and respiratory diseases in the first weeks of life. Challenges, e.g. adverse climate conditions or social stress promote proliferation of infectious agents such as E. coli, Rota and Corona virus and Cryptosporidia resulting in intestinal microbiota imbalances.

One effective tool to strengthen body's defence and enhance gut microbiota and morphology is the use of real brewers' yeast Saccharomyces (S.) cerevisiae. Applied in milk replacers or starter diets risk of scours can be reduced. Figure 1 shows the broad range of brewers' yeasts for animal nutrition. Yeast derivatives like yeast cell walls, ß-glucans or autolysates are most commonly used in calf diets.

Figure 1:  Brewers' yeast products for animal nutrition



Real brewers' yeast cell walls: beneficial effects on gut health

Real brewers' yeast is a brewery by-product that is refined and processed to different feed and food specialties. Whereas yeast cell content (yeast extract) is mainly used in food, aqua and pet food industry, yeast cell walls or parts thereof are commonly used in livestock diets. In addition to other valuable ingredients like amino acids, B vitamins and minerals, real brewers' yeast contains components of hop. Calming, bacteriostatic and antioxidative effects are described for hops. According to in vitro-studies a preventive use can result in inhibition of gram-positive pathogens. Furthermore the cell wall product Biolex® MB 40 consists of high mannan-oligosaccharides (MOS) and (1.3)-(1.6)-ß-glucan contents. It is evident that MOS serve as growing medium for beneficial bacteria like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria in the gut. In an in-vitro model (simulator of intestinal microbial ecosystem) the prebiotic, dose-dependent effect of Biolex® MB40 could be demonstrated. Biolex® MB40 is digested moderately and selectively, in particular in the distal colon. Additionally, with specific receptors at their surface MOS bind certain gram-negative pathogens and (myco)toxins. An in vitro study at the University of Berlin showed that Leiber brewers' yeast significantly reduces adhesion of coliform pathogens and salmonella to intestinal epithelial cells by 30 and 50%, respectively (figures 2 and 3).

Positive effects on gut health of calves, lambs and piglets were confirmed in several feeding trials. For example, in a trial from Thailand 0,1% Biolex MB 40 in piglet feed reduced incidence of diarrhea in rearing period by 30%. In another trial from Iran with 75 Holstein calves Biolex MB 40 in milk replacer and starter feed resulted in less diarrhea days and improved fecal score. As a result of improved microbiota balance higher weight gains were observed in calves fed with prebiotic-supplemented diets.

Immune-stimulating effects of yeast (1.3)-(1.6)-ß-glucans

Leiber Beta-S consists of highly purified (1.3)-(1.6)-ß-glucans which are known for immune- modulating effects. A Polish university trial demonstrated positive effect of Leiber Beta-S in calves on unspecific and specific immune response by increasing phagocytic activity as well as proliferation of B and T lymphocytes (figure 4). Results suggest that supplementation of Leiber Beta-S sets the immune system in excited state and therefore a faster immune response occurs when pathogens enter the body. 

Another university trial from Poland showed that feeding ewes with Beta-S positively impacts the offspring as well. Beta-S resulted in significantly higher γ-globulin and lysozyme levels in blood of dam and lamb (figure 5) and increased B and T cells.

From studies in dogs and human it may be concluded that yeast ß-glucans are able to strengthen body's defence, decrease level of pro-inflammatory interleukins, increase level of anti-inflammatory interleukins and reduce severity of respiratory tract infections symptoms. Similar beneficial effects in young or stressed calves are expected. However, further investigations are necessary.


The supplementation of brewers' yeast derivatives in the offspring of ruminants is a very effective tool to enhance gut health and support immune system.

Since more than 65 years Leiber GmbH refines by-products from breweries and produces high-quality brewers' yeast "Made in Germany". Leiber provides sustainable and tailor-made solutions to feed and food industry all over the world.



For more of the article, please click here.

Article made possible through the contribution of Petra Bisesti and Leiber GmbH, Germany
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