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7th IHSIG International Conference on Poultry Intestinal Health
The following technical article is related to the event::
7th IHSIG International Conference on Poultry Intestinal Health

Reducing antimicrobial usage in broilers and effects on consumer perception, animal health and welfare, and economics?

Published on: 9/15/2022
Author/s : Randall S. Singer / Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, University of Minnesota, United States.

Ensuring the safety, health, and overall well-being of animals raised for food is both an ethical obligation and a critical component of providing safe food products. The use of antibiotics for maintaining animal health has come under scrutiny in recent years due to the rise of antibiotic resistance globally. Some U.S. producers, especially in the poultry industry, have responded by eliminating their antibiotic use. The number of animals raised without antibiotics (RWA) is growing in the U.S., but there are concerns that RWA practices might negatively impact animal health and welfare. With the need to better understand the ways in which antimicrobials are used in animals, antibiotic use data are being collected in different agricultural commodities. This presentation will discuss approaches for collecting antimicrobial use data in animal agriculture, including in poultry production. In 2020 we published articles that reported on antimicrobial use in the U.S. broiler chicken and turkey industries between 2013 and 2017. This initial effort provided annual totals of on-farm antimicrobial use but lacked the granularity to calculate antimicrobial use metrics at the flock level. We are now collecting data covering the period 2017-2021 that will have detail about each flock that received an antimicrobial. It needs to be emphasized, though, that eliminating antimicrobials from poultry production can negatively impact animal health and welfare while increasing the cost of food production. Further, all interventions that reduce the incidence of diseases that might result in the use of antimicrobials are typically paid for by the producer or production company. For example, vaccines might be effective at preventing diseases in animals so that fewer antibiotics are needed for treatment, but these vaccines are often more expensive than the cost of antimicrobials. While reducing the amount of antimicrobial used is an important step in mitigating antimicrobial resistance, reducing the need for antimicrobials should be considered a more important metric of success. Setting arbitrary targets for antimicrobial reduction can be misleading and can result in severe negative health consequences. Ensuring responsible antimicrobial use should be considered a more relevant goal than simple documentation of reduced use.


Presented at the 7th International Conference on Poultry Intestinal Health, Cartagena, Colombia, 2022. For information on the next edition, click here.

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