Vets Develop New Concept to Reduce Poultry Antibiotic Use

UK - A poultry veterinary practice has developed a fresh approach to reducing antibiotic usage on farm, to help fight the worsening issue of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
calendar icon 14 May 2015
clock icon 3 minute read

The ABC concept aims to help farmers to improve chick health and intestinal integrity, with the aim of reducing the need for medicinal intervention and focusing medicines where they are most needed.

ABC stands for Applied Bacterial Control and involves the creation of individual husbandry solutions for each farm, and also the use of products like short-chain fatty acids, essential oils and beneficial bacteria to boost bird health.

“Poultry producers are coming under increasing pressure from retailers and processors to reduce antibiotic usage,” said Richard Turner from St David’s Poultry Team, the veterinary organisation behind the new idea.

“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.

“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,” Mr Turner said.

Antibiotic use in poultry is low and tightly controlled, and it is essential that the industry continues to have access to these medicines, he warned. “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, the vets say 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,” said Mr Turner.

Researchers from the organisation are also investigating 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 added.

“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.”

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