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Chicken Farmers Change Antibiotic

on December 4 | in Ag News | by | with No Comments

From FCC Express, by David Schmidt 

The Chicken Farmers of Canada plans to eliminate the preventative use of Category 1 antibiotics in poultry production by May 2014. They would still be available to treat specific outbreaks.

Steve Leech, CFC food safety, animal care and research program manager, says the plan is a response to worldwide concerns about potential anti-microbial resistance in humans.

“This is a high priority for the World Health Organization,” Leech says, noting both the Canadian and Ontario Medical Associations have called for the elimination of sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics.

Category 1 antibiotics used in animal production, such as Ceftiofur and Baytril, are considered of very high importance as there are no alternatives for their use in human health. Category 2 drugs, including penicillin, are considered of high importance. Category 3, which includes sulfas have a medium rating. Category 4 drugs like coccidiostats and other ionophores are of little concern as they are not used in human medicine.

Last year, a CFC survey showed 55 per cent of hatcheries used no Category 1 or 2 antibiotics. 12 per cent inserted a Category 1 antibiotic into eggs and 33 per cent used a Category 2 antibiotic. There was no on-farm use of Category 1 antibiotics, but 97 per cent of growers used at least one Category 2 or 3 drug, with 27 per cent using two or more.

The survey will now become a component of the CFC food safety program, called OFFSAP. CFC will also monitor antibiotic use in hatcheries and feed mills.

CFC also wants to stop use of over-the-counter drugs by having all antibiotic use require a veterinary prescription. However, the group acknowledges there probably isn’t enough veterinary capacity to accomplish that.

The British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture recently conducted its own survey of over-the-counter antimicrobial use in the province’s poultry industry.

BCMA poultry health veterinarian Dr. Bill Cox says the aim was to estimate over-the-counter drug-use in poultry versus overall over-the-counter drug-use in animals.

It surveyed about 300 chicken farms, turkey growers and hatching egg producers and found 89.8 of the 2,568 kilograms of active ingredients sold in B.C. animal health stores last year went to the chicken industry.

“Use of water-soluble drugs in chicken has been very low,” Cox states. “Almost 90 per cent of chicken farmers reported no drug use outside of their feed and just two per cent reported use of more than one drug.”

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