UK makes significant cuts in poultry antibiotic use
The UK poultry sector has reduced its antibiotic use by more than 70% over four years, according to latest industry figures.
The British Poultry Council (BPC) said antibiotic use has fallen dramatically across poultry farms in the country following a concerted effort by producers to think differently about how they approach bird health.
In its 2017 Antibiotic Stewardship Report, the BPC revealed antibiotic use dropped by 71% between 2012 and 2016, with producers using almost 24 tons less over the period.
Safeguarding antibiotic efficiency
The organization said that by ensuring the sustainable use of antibiotics, the UK poultry sector is protecting the health and welfare of birds, safeguarding antibiotic efficiency, and producing food consumers trust.
Last year saw the sector stop the prophylactic use of antibiotics, as well as halting the use of colistin – a crucial antibiotic used in human medicine.
The industry also agreed to new antibiotic standards for Red Tractor Poultry Assurance – the largest food assurance scheme in the UK – which will come into force in October this year.
BPC chairman John Reed said while the industry is delighted with the results, there is still more work to be done.
“Our antibiotic stewardship continuously reviews on-farm management practices to ensure sustainable use of antibiotics throughout our supply chain,” he said.
Antibiotic use – and resistance to them – is one of the biggest challenges facing the world, but Reed said the UK poultry sector is committed to getting a better understanding of how and why it uses them.
‘Zero use not an option’
“Our farmers and veterinarians need antibiotics in their toolbox to treat sick birds – zero use is not an option – and we will protect the health and welfare of our birds,” he added.
“We will safeguard the efficacy of antibiotics as part of sustainable food production, and we will continue to feed the nation.”
Reed said the next challenge for the sector is to examine the link between antibiotic use and resistance in the poultry production chain.
The BPC is committed to sharing its progress with other producers across the world to help drive responsible use, he added.