Antibiotics in Poultry
I see it on a regular basis – discussions about the overuse of antibiotics in poultry. It’s akin to swimming Niagra Falls to try to explain what we do sometimes, and while it may be different than larger operations, they have reasons for what they do. My decisions aren’t based on larger operations.
My decisions are based on what’s in front of me – our birds.
Recently I saw an interesting quote shared at a recent International Production and Processing Expo, a poultry trade show:
Among those polled, 19 percent of those polled know that antibiotics are used in animal production to prevent disease, 24 percent knew that antibiotics help keep animals healthy and 18 percent knew that antibiotics can cure illness. And while they knew these truths, Amstein said 13 percent falsely believed antibiotic use increases animal size. Additionally, only 14 percent of people surveyed believed that there are no residues of antibiotics in the meat and poultry products once they reach the grocery store.
Too often antibiotics is one of those kitchen sink discussions. It starts about antibiotics then it’s hormones then poisons and other medications, drugs in beef and a host of other issues far from antibiotics in poultry.
We use a minimum of any type of medication here. Antibiotic is expensive – too expensive to use if not needed. It doesn’t make animals grow larger. The only treatment of any kind we use here isn’t antibiotic. There’s simply no need for it.
Now it’s true we don’t have the educated letters behind our names to tell you how each scientific conclusion happens in illness. This I know, however, is that a need for antibiotics here just isn’t there. Why buy something that isn’t needed?
For our customers and ourselves, there are a handful of treatments we *might* use in poultry.
These may include:
- Treatment for coccidia – for ease of use this is most often Corid. It’s put into their water for 5 days. Coccidia is a parasite that can and will kill birds and animals. It’s present in the soil, and most birds and animals have it in their intestines. When it gets overloaded, it causes illness. We keep it on hand now, and although only use it once, maybe twice per year, some years it’s not used at all! Being prepared means having it on hand.
- We have looked at a green probiotic that I’ll use on incoming chicks to give a boost. I’ve not used it before but in the view of giving every baby a full chance at health, the reading I’ve done makes it something to give a boost. I’ve once used probiotics on a young rabbit, and it made a bit difference. Probiotics, of course, work differently than antibiotics, but it seems sometimes are confused. Probiotics are said to be organic approved.
- De-wormer. If we get a group of birds that have rough feathers, not gaining or maintaining their weight, parasites are the first thing that comes to mind. Wazine, a type of de-wormer, is added to their drinking water for a few days.
Other than these three things, we really don’t use medications on our birds. Plenty of fresh air, sunshine and good feed keeps them healthy. There just isn’t much in the way of mystery for raising birds. Outdoors there is a chance of needing treated by one or more of these in weather changes, especially in wet weather. Beyond that, it’s just basics.
It works for us. It’s acceptable to our customers. We don’t have to worry about contamination and withdrawals on something that isn’t there. Most of what we do use is on older birds – our breeders. We have some birds that are 3 and 4 years old.
I think what we do is working…for us.
Good feed, plenty of water, shelter, some time outside, protection from predators. Poultry basics.