The Poultry Bulletin - - TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT - By Ni­cole Teuchert

Due to the buildup of an­tibi­otic re­sis­tant bac­te­ria, the in­creas­ing in­ci­dence of multi re­sis­tant bac­te­rial in­fec­tions, and the de­creas­ing ef­fi­cacy of ex­ist­ing an­tibi­otics, the use of an­tibi­otics in live­stock an­i­mal feed has been ques­tioned. This has led to the search to find al­ter­na­tive meth­ods, or rather ad­di­tives to match the im­prove­ment in an­i­mal health and per­for­mance which re­sulted from feed­ing an­tibi­otic growth pro­mot­ers (AGP’S) to live­stock an­i­mals.

An­tibi­otics were first dis­cov­ered by Alexan­der Flem­ing in 1928 and once its bio­chem­istry and ef­fi­cacy was proven by Ernst Chain and Howard Florey, to­gether they re­leased “peni­cillin” as a medicine to the world. This re­sulted in a pop­u­la­tion growth with hu­man life ex­pectancy jump­ing by 8 years in less than three decades. With this, came the de­mand for more food, more pro­tein. Cer­tain foods were in short sup­ply and the govern­ment turned to sci­en­tist to help. In the 1950’s sci­en­tists dis­cov­ered that feed­ing pro­duc­tion an­i­mals low doses of an­tibi­otics re­sulted in health­ier live­stock, which grew faster and lived longer. This pro­vided the pop­u­la­tion with more milk, eggs and meat at a lower cost. How­ever, Flem­ing did warn that if the dose is too small, the mi­crobes would not be killed and re­sist the an­tibi­otics.

From the 1970’s on­wards there was an in­crease in the con­cern of an­tibi­otic re­sis­tance bac­te­ria. Swe­den and Den­mark were the first to make vol­un­tary bans on AGP’S in the 1980’s – 1990’s re­spec­tively, in an at­tempt to de­crease the build up an­tibi­otic re­sis­tant bac­te­ria in hu­man health per­ceived to be re­lated to an­tibi­otic use in live­stock an­i­mal feed. By 2006 the EU had de­cided to ban all non­ther­a­peu­tic an­tibi­otic use in live­stock an­i­mals, and by 2013 there were reg­u­la­tions in place for AGP’S in 46 coun­tries around the world.

A large per­cent­age of ad­min­is­tered an­tibi­otics pass through the an­i­mal and into the en­vi­ron­ment. It is es­ti­mated that up to 90% of an an­tibi­otic dose can be ex­creted in the urine and 75% in their fae­ces. The FDA es­ti­mated that 80% of an­tibi­otics pro­duced in the US are used in live­stock. Due to this large quan­tity of an­tibi­otics be­ing used in the an­i­mal pro­duc­tion in­dus­try and what we know is ex­creted by the an­i­mal, as well as the in­crease in an­tibi­otic re­sis­tant bac­te­ria and its pos­si­ble link to an­tibi­otic re­sis­tant disease in hu­mans – it is ev­i­dent that the role agri­cul­ture plays in the an­tibi­otic re­sis­tance cy­cle needs to be re­duced or elim­i­nated.

The threat of an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tant disease is a rel­e­vant con­cern, with the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion warn­ing that an­tibi­otic re­sis­tance could cause more deaths than can­cer in the years to come. An es­ti­mated 23 000 peo­ple in the Unites States, 38 000 peo­ple in Thai­land and 25 000 peo­ple in the Euro­pean Union, die each year as a re­sult of an­tibi­otic re­sis­tant disease (CDC, ECDC). In a re­view on An­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance done in 2014 it was es­ti­mated that the global im­pact of an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance by 2050 will re­sult in a mor­tal­ity of 9 mil­lion peo­ple in Africa and Asia alone (Fig­ure 1).

In a nu­tri­tion and feed sur­vey con­ducted by Jackie Roem­bke (edi­tor of Feed Man­age­ment and Feed In­ter­na­tional), it was clear that the poul­try in­dus­try is tak­ing a proac­tive ap­proach to mov­ing pro­duc­tion to­wards be­ing an­tibi­otic free. Of the 286 re­spon­dents, 17% re­ported a pro­duc­tion sys­tem run­ning at 100% an­tibi­otic free, while a fur­ther 26% re­ported run­ning at 50% or more of the pro­duc­tion sys­tem an­tibi­otic free (Table 1). Col­lec­tively this gave an im­pres­sive 43% of the re­spon­dents across the world run­ning at 50% or more of their poul­try pro­duc­tion

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