A poster on the dangers of antibiotics got me thinking about how we keep our chickens healthy. Firstly, we choose a slow-growing breed. Then we give them plenty of space in a field. These choices lead to a stronger immune system and do away with the need for medication.
Using plenty of bedding in the brooder, plus garlic infused drinking water, helps us manage coccidiosis which is spread by birds eating droppings.
The Alliance to Save our Antibiotics is calling for the use of antibiotics in poultry to be reduced to 20mg/kg by 2021. Thankfully, the amount of antibiotics used is falling quickly, though they are being replaced by other drugs, namely ionophores, which are called food additives/ antibiotics / anti microbial agents depending who you speak to.
Of course, changing how the chickens are reared would be the best option but that would increase both the cost of chicken and the effort required to rear the birds.
Interestingly, there are massive differences in the levels of antibiotic resistance found in poultry across Europe and organic farming shows it is possible not to use antibiotics.