Their research holds promise to counter bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria sicken more than two million people in the United States kill more than 23,000 every year.
Critics want pork producers to eliminate sub-therapeutic antibiotic use throughout the production cycle.
Finding safe and effective alternatives to conventional antibiotics may give producers viable options in the event the antibiotics are removed from use, William Oliver, a physiologist at the agency’s Agricultural Research Service in Clay Center, Neb., said in a news release.
Oliver and his ARS and university colleagues began investigating lysozyme in 2010.
They found that piglets on lysozyme- or antibiotics-treated feeds grew approximately 12 percent faster than untreated pigs—even in uncleaned pens, suggesting that the treatments successfully lessened the impact of harmful bacteria.