For the past 20 years, the livestock industry has moved away from using growth-promoting antibiotics. Shifting to antibiotic-free (ABF) or reduced usage in poultry production has been driven by changes in public perception, consumer demands and increased awareness of antibiotic resistance. While antibiotics can still be used when deemed necessary by a veterinarian, the prohibition of growth promoters led to a reformation in poultry production in management.
Key initiatives driving ABF include:
Antibiotics were previously used in poultry for growth promotion and to enhance nutrient utilization. However, their use also led to antibiotic resistance of pathogens related to human health, such as Salmonella, Staphylococcus and E. coli, leading to concerns about long-term health implications.
Market Demand and Labeling:
Companies in the poultry industry are responding to market demands by labeling their products as “antibiotic-free” or “no antibiotics ever”. The labeling of such products has increased significantly over the years, indicating a growing consumer preference for ABF.
Upgrading Industry Practices:
The shift towards antibiotic-free poultry production requires a comprehensive upgrade of industry practices. This includes cleaner hatchery conditions, improved brooding methods, and the prevention of excess bacteria into the production system.
Focus on Feed Quality:
Feed quality plays a crucial role in antibiotic-free poultry production. Contamination of feed can introduce bacterial and viral pathogens, hindering performance and possibly leading to disease outbreaks.
Emphasis on Preventive Measures:
In the absence of antibiotics, preventive measures such as vaccination, products to stimulate immune response and gut health and enhanced biosecurity protocols have become the focus of ABF production. These measures help maintain bird health and reduce the risk of disease outbreaks.
Overall Industry Transformation:
The move towards antibiotic-free poultry production represents a significant transformation in the industry. It involves reevaluating traditional practices, adopting new technologies, and looking at new ways to manage bird welfare and health to meet the evolving demands of consumers for safer and more sustainable poultry products.
Alternatives to Antibiotics in Poultry Production
As poultry producers navigate antibiotic-free production, several key changes are taking place to meet this trend head-on. One major area of focus is on novel techniques to improve poultry health. By eliminating the use of antibiotics for growth promotion, industry players are taking steps to safeguard the well-being of birds and address potential long-term human health implications.
Antibiotic free poultry production signifies a significant transformation that involves embracing new technologies, stricter disease risk management, and improved management across all levels of live production. Producing poultry under ABF production is a team effort; the use of a feed sanitizer to reduce the microbial load of feed is a small piece of the puzzle but it has been shown to improve the performance of broiler breeders and broilers under challenge conditions.
The commitment of the poultry industry to meet consumer demands for ABF not only reflects a shift towards more sustainable practices but also underscores dedication to delivering quality protein to consumers.
To learn more about how feed sanitation can support antibiotic-free poultry production, contact a clean feed expert today.