Antimicrobial use drops in US poultry sector

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

The use of antimicrobials in US poultry has dropped significantly between 2013 and 2017
The use of antimicrobials in US poultry has dropped significantly between 2013 and 2017

Related tags: Poultry, Antimicrobial, Livestock

Antimicrobial use in the broiler chicken and turkey sector in the US has seen a dramatic reduction over the past five years.

Published by US Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) and compiled by Dr. Randall Singer, DVM, PhD, of Mindwalk Consulting Group, LLC, the report represents a five-year set of data collected from 2013 to 2017 regarding the use of antimicrobials in US broiler chickens and turkeys from hatchery to day of harvest. It was prepared through a systematic collection of on-farm antimicrobial use data to capture the disease indications and routes of administration through which antimicrobials were given to the poultry.

The research found that the percentage of broiler chickens receiving antimicrobials in the hatchery fell from 93% in 2013 to 17% in 2017 while usage in turkeys fell from 96% in 2013 to 41% in 2017.

Medically important in-feed antimicrobial use in broiler chickens decreased by as much as 95% over the period while medically important water-soluble antimicrobial use in broiler chickens decreased by as much as 72%.

The reduction in usage was attributed to changes in FDA regulations that effectively eliminated the use of medically important antimicrobials for production purposes and placed all medically important antimicrobials administered in the feed or water of poultry under veterinary supervision, as well as continued focus by poultry companies on disease prevention.

Other reasons for the reduction included improved record-keeping of all antimicrobial administration, and the broiler chicken and turkey industries increasing production of animals raised without antimicrobials.

USPOULTRY vice president of research Dr. John Glisson praised the progress made. “This research is the first step in determining how antimicrobials are used in the entire poultry production system of the US, and to succeed, we need participation from the majority of companies.”

He did caution that antimicrobials were sometimes essential. “There are still serious bird illnesses (e.g., necrotic enteritis, gangrenous dermatitis and colibacillosis) for which the poultry industry has few effective interventions. And when birds get sick from these diseases, they must receive therapy. Driving good antimicrobial stewardship in poultry, as opposed to simple documentation of reduced use, is our end goal for the best outcomes for both the people and the poultry.”

Dr. Singer will continue the annual collection of data from the broiler and turkey industries, and will begin collecting data from the US table egg industry to helo the poultry industry to improve antimicrobial stewardship. He will also document the burden of flock illness and reasons for on-farm antimicrobial usage.

Related topics: Meat

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