Biotechnological advances in animal health and nutrition continue to play a significant role in the improvement of animal health, growth, and production performance. These biotechnological advancements, especially the use of direct-fed microbials, also termed probiotics, those genetically modified and otherwise, have minimized many challenges facing livestock production around the world. Such advancements result in healthy animals and animal products, such as meat, for a growing population worldwide. Increasing demand for productivity, healthy animals, and consumer food safety concerns, especially those emanating from excessive use of antibiotics or growth promoters, are a driving force for investing in safer alternatives, such as probiotics. The advent of vastly diverse pathogens and bacterial organisms, some of which have acquired antimicrobial resistance due to therapeutic use of these antibiotics, has had a negative impact on the animal and food industries. Probiotics have been chosen as substitutes to counter this excessive use of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance. Over the last decade, probiotics have gained recognition, increased in importance, and stimulated growing interest in the animal health and nutrition industry. Probiotics are considered to be favorable live microorganisms by the host organism by maintaining microbial homeostasis and healthy gut, and can be a viable alternative to antibiotics in addition to providing other growth-promoting properties. Even though various studies describe the modes of action of probiotics, more research is needed to illuminate the exact mechanism of action of probiotics and how they benefit the host. This review describes the importance of probiotics in animal health, nutrition, and in growth and production performance. It also provides a thorough review of recent advances in probiotics research and application in animal health and nutrition and future directions on probiotic research to enhance animal performance.

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Published in Agriculture, v. 12, issue 2, 304.

© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This research received no external funding.