Yeast in animal feed and pet foods: why it's used and its benefits


When it comes to animal feed and pet food, yeast has a variety of beneficial uses. From nucleotides for immune support to yeast extracts for palatability, there are a range of benefits for both the livestock and pet food industries.

In this blog, we’ll delve deeper into the uses of yeast-based ingredients within the pet food and livestock industries.

What's the difference between yeast extract and yeast cell walls?

Yeast extract and yeast cell walls are both derived from yeast. However, they each have distinct characteristics and functions. 

In commercial production, yeast cells are cultured in controlled conditions, then harvested. Yeast extracts are made by breaking down cells to release their contents. After the removal of the internal components, yeast cell walls are isolated by centrifugation or filtration.

Yeast extract consists of proteins, amino acids, carbohydrates, peptides, nucleotides, vitamins, and minerals. It is the amino acids and nucleotides, that give yeast extract its rich umami and savoury taste.

On the other hand, yeast cell walls are the outer, protective layer of the cells and are primarily composed of complex carbohydrates, including beta-glucans and mannan-oligosaccharides. These two active ingredients have the ability to bind toxins and support the immune system.

What are the different uses of yeast in animal feed and pet food?

Yeast is used in animal feeds for two primary reasons: for growth and immune support and for palatability. 

In commercial livestock farming, yeast cell walls are added to feed as a supplement. They boost immune function and gut health, enhancing nutrient absorption and disease resistance, thereby promoting overall growth and health in livestock.

With yeast extracts it is the natural amino acids and nucleotides which provide a savoury, umami taste. This can bring out the meaty flavour of pet foods or mask the unpleasant tastes of medicines.

How are yeast and nucleotides used for improving growth and immune support for livestock?

Beta-glucans and mannan-oligosaccharides, present within yeast cell walls both have immune-supporting properties. Nucleotides, found within yeast extract, are involved in the development and maturation of immune cells.

Keeping livestock healthy is, of course, a priority for producers. And with increasing levels of antibiotic resistance, there’s a growing need for alternatives to antibiotic growth promoters. Immune support solutions, such as Ohly-GO® Wall, help to improve resistance against microbial infections and support the overall immune system. 

Incorporating dietary nucleotides into feed also helps to improve animal health along with supporting daily weight gain. Whilst nucleotides are produced naturally in the body through the process of synthesis, animals are often not able to produce enough when experiencing rapid growth. For this reason, adding yeast products, such as Ohly-GO® Nucleo, to animal feed is an effective way to boost animal growth and enhance health.

How are yeast extracts used for improving palatability?

Yeast extracts are commonly used in the food industry to improve palatability, and the same applies to pet foods. Glutamic acid and nucleotides help to draw out rich, umami flavours, bringing a meaty and savoury taste to pet food. 

Yeast extracts such as Ohly-GO® Meaty and Ohly-GO® KTD provide meaty and roasted notes that are more palatable for carnivorous animals than grains. Tasty and enjoyable food is vital for ensuring that pets eat enough to get the nutrients they need.

Plus, the rich and complex taste of yeast extract is an effective way to mask undesirable flavours. For this reason, yeast extracts are commonly used to increase palatability of pet supplements or to mask the often unpleasant taste of medicines.

What are the benefits of yeast for animal feed?

Incorporating yeast extract into animal feed comes with multiple benefits, ranging from improving palatability to strengthening the immune system.

Yeast extract is a natural and a safe ingredient without genetic modification. Rich in essential nutrients and highly digestible proteins, yeast extract offers support to the immune system, improves daily weight gain and gut health of animals. And since yeast extracts are highly palatable, often adding meaty or roasted notes, animals are much more willing to eat food which encompasses this component.


Find out more

If you’d like to find out more about our yeast extract products and how they can be used in animal feed or pet food, get in touch with our team today.