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Transitioning From Antibiotics in Broiler Production

02/22/2014

Dr. Alex Kiers

    

Dr. Alexis Kiers, Poultry Health Consultant, Washington DC

The recent antibiotic workshop during the 2014 IPPE during late January stressed the imminence in replacing antibiotics used for growth promotion with alternative feed additives by 2016.

Entering in resonance with this upcoming ban Chick-fil-A, the nation's largest chicken chain in annual sales, announced last week that the company plans to only sell chicken raised without antibiotics at all of its stores within five years. Familiar names such as Panera, Chipotle and Jason's Deli have already gone in this antibiotic-free direction; however the Chick-fil-A decision demonstrates that the corporate trend towards cleaner food seems to be catching fire.

The great majority of the antibiotics fed today to broilers are for controlling gut health by limiting enteritis conditions and for promoting growth by decreasing postprandial (low-grade) inflammation response. Gut health plays a vital role in broiler production. Only a healthy gut can digest and absorb the maximal amount of nutrients to obtain the most out of the diet.

If the digestive system is compromised, its requirements for energy and protein increase sharply. This can severely diminish the nutrients available to the bird for growth and thus slow weight gain, leaving a plunge in feed efficiency. In addition, most intestinal challenges will lead to reduced feed intake that can further impact bird performance.