2015-05-13   facebook twitter rss

Fresh Approach To Reducing Antibiotic Usage In Poultry

A leading poultry veterinary practice has developed a fresh approach to reducing antibiotic usage on farm, providing chicken producers with a vital lifeline in challenging times.

The ABC concept, developed by St David’s Poultry Team, helps farmers to improve chick health and intestinal integrity, with the aim of reducing the need for medicinal intervention. “Poultry producers are coming under increasing pressure from retailers and processors to reduce antibiotic usage,” says partner Richard Turner. “But putting that into practice on farm without adverse welfare implications is easier said than done, which is why we have focussed so much effort on developing a robust system that farmers can adopt.”

Richard Turner

Richard Turner

The core feature of ABC, which stands for Applied Bacterial Control, is the creation of bespoke husbandry solutions for each farm with the added use of products like short chain fatty acids, essential oils and probiotics to boost bird health. “We have had proven success in trials and on farms, and we are now working with large integrators to roll the ABC approach out across the UK,” says Mr Turner.

Antibiotic use in poultry is low and tightly controlled, and it is essential that the industry continues to have access to these medicines, he warns. “The ABC approach is not to rule out antibiotic use, but to improve overall poultry health and focus the medication where it is needed.”

For optimum efficacy, it is best to adopt ABC at every stage of the supply chain, from breeder to finisher, as it requires considerable knowledge of the farm and potential causes of intestinal dysbacteriosis. “Diarrhoea can be a serious problem on poultry farms, and it can have multiple causes, so taking an holistic approach to tackling it is essential,” says Mr Turner.

St David’s is also undertaking research into the use of beneficial bacteria that cannibalise ‘bad’ bacteria, creating ongoing protection against disease. “In pigs, bacterial cultures can be used to specifically kill salmonella, and bacteria can also be sprayed onto surfaces post cleaning to produce bacterins which then kill E coli,” he adds.

“There are many competitive interactions between bacteria and taking advantage of these competitors opens a completely new approach to improving bird health. Producers are always aiming for sterile environments, but it may be that colonising a farm or hatchery with beneficial bacteria is the way of the future.”

St davids Poultry Team

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