Sense and animal welfare prevail in antibiotic-free production
A recurring thought in almost all presentations at Asian Agribiz’s Poultry Health Conference 2019 was that antibiotic-free (ABF) production is gaining traction.
The industry, while rattled initially by the withdrawal of antibiotics, is now embracing it and adopting measures to ensure better productivity and safe products.
But sensibility is ruling now that the industry is settling into the ABF culture, agreed most presenters. A leading thought was that animal welfare is important and when a flock’s health is compromised, permissible antibiotics should be administered but with veterinary guidance.
The conference held on May 7-8 at the Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok, was led by Tom Grimes as Conference Chairman and Program Director. It had ‘Antibiotic use and controls in poultry – Current trends and the future’ as it’s over-riding theme. More than 110 delegates from 18 countries were in attendance.
Sensible approach to ABF production
In the introductory presentation, Pat Blackall Principle Research Fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia said the poultry industry should take the lead in antimicrobial stewardship.
“Antimicrobial resistance or AMR is a major issue in terms of sustainable farming practices. “While a number of claims of the movement of AMR genes (particularly those connected with E. coli) and antibiotic resistant forms of E. coli, from chickens to human have been published, these claims are not fully supported by evidence used to make those claims,” he said.
Addressing programs to reduce antibiotics and AMR, John Smith, Poultry Veterinary Consultant from the US championed judicious use of antimicrobial drugs. His presentation which was delivered by Mr Grimes, concluded that it pays to be judicious as it reduces drug costs with no adverse effects to health and performance of the animal.
“Besides, it builds consumer confidence and widens market reach, while preserving antibiotic efficacy,” he opined. He added that raising birds with NAE (No antibiotics ever) costs more and offers no benefit to the birds, society or the environment.
Role of breeder, hatchery and husbandry in reducing antibiotic use and AMR
In this session, Orlando Fernandez of Cobb Asia in the Philippines emphasized breeder health and focused on important considerations in a vaccination program. He said it should be kept as simple as possible as proper vaccination techniques should be employed to ensure that the vaccine gets into the birds.
Hatchery Management Consultant, Donna Hill added to this when she said that the hatchery is a crucial step in an NAE. The critical areas to consider are egg quality and sanitation, hatchery sanitation, incubation and chick handling.
“There are numerous ways that chicks can be exposed to salmonella in the hatchery,” she said. “A correlation exists between hatchery acquired salmonella and production of salmonella seeder chicks.”
Reducing antibiotic use and AMR
Dan Pearson, Veterinary Health Director – Europe of Aviagen UK said all AGPs are banned in the EU and all other antibiotics must be licensed and then prescribed by a veterinarian to be used in livestock.
“To achieve reductions in antibiotic use, most companies have used a combination of feed and water additives,” he said. “But no one class of products have emerged as a solution. A combination of measures combining best management practices and feed and water additives seem to work.”
Contribution to this thought, Kiran Doranalli Technical Director – Gut health Solutions of Evonik Nutrition and Care, emphasized that ABF production requires a multi-dimensional approach.
Numerous definitions of ABF produce
On the second day, discussions centered around ‘The role of broiler vaccination and husbandry programs in reducing antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance (AMR)’; ‘The importance of disease control in reducing antibiotic use and AMR; and ‘Importance of control of gut infections in reducing antibiotic use and AMR’.
The no antibiotics policy could translate to a number of definitions, said Sakdid Anulomsombat, Food Safety and QM Manger of Betagro, Thailand. It could mean raised without AGPs, or raised without medically important antibiotics or
without critically important antibiotics. “Betagro is changing to meet consumer demand and food labels are reflecting this,” he explained. These labels, apart from promoting food safety also have elements of organic produce as well as animal welfare.
Producers these days are challenged by thin margins and fierce competition. To counter this, production efficiency and reduction in losses are the target of producers said Christophe Cazaban, Global Veterinary Services Manager of Ceva Sante Animale. “Targets should be set top down and across the value chain. Regular monitoring of the sanitary status of all production areas starting with the hatchery, should be initiated and followed through,” he said.
Good husbandry and biosecurity
Newcastle disease (ND) and avian influenza negatively impact poultry production globally. “In the field, co-infection with both diseases is not uncommon but hard to detect,” said Ming Yong, Head of Marketing at Boehringer Ingelheim. “Together with good husbandry practices and sound biosecurity, ND and AI can be controlled, leading to healthier flocks and reduced use of antibiotics.”
Coccidiosis prevention will help reduce antibiotic use in poultry production. The parasitic disease is regarded as the costliest disease as it deteriorates gut health and leads to the need of antibiotic treatment for curbing intestinal bacterial overgrowth, wet droppings and other health issues. “It is ubiquitous; if you do not take steps to prevent it in commercial situations with dense populations, subclinical and even clinical issues are almost guaranteed,” said Tom Grimes, speaking on behalf of John Smith, Poultry Veterinary Consultant based in the US. Control of Coccidiosis would effectively eliminate NE while reducing the need for antibiotics and making vaccination more feasible.
Antinutritional factors in feed including mycotoxins are key to heavy antibiotic use, said Michele Muccio, Production Manager of Biomin Holding GmbH. Mr Muccio stressed the severity of mycotoxin contamination saying this could impair gut health, nutrient adsorbtion while increasing the severity of pathogenic diseases.
The use of Good Agricultural Practice, Good Manufacturing Practice standards as well as other common guidelines will help control and reduce mycotoxin contamination particularly during storage of feed ingredients such as rice, soybean and corn, he said.
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