Main Issues to Consider for Organic Poultry Production

Main Issues to Consider for Organic Poultry ProductionIf you are considering establishing an organic poultry enterprise there are many issues you will need to think about. These are some of the most important:

Soil type: The soil needs to be relatively free draining. Heavy, wet land not only makes access difficult, it also creates more challenges for the birds;

Shelter: Poultry need a sheltered environment. Exposed locations should be avoided if possible;

Labour: Organic poultry production is more labour intensive than conventional systems; the birds are housed in smaller groups, often in mobile housing. As the houses are often moved around the farm, there may be instances where the birds are some distance from the farm buildings;

Infrastructure: Water should be available in the house (both at the brooding and rearing stages), and preferably also on the range. You will need good access all year round, to feed, observe and manage the birds. At certain points in the rotation, the houses may be some distance from the farm yard, and this may mean a significant amount of travelling, sometimes in less than ideal weather conditions;

Capital: A considerable amount of capital investment is required to establish a successful and efficient organic poultry production unit of any reasonable size. This may, depending on whether there are existing slaughter facilities available to you, also require setting up a processing unit on farm;

Feed: The move towards 100% organic ration, increasing feed prices and the emphasis organic principles place on home grown feed mean that feed is a major consideration when considering setting up or converting to an organic poultry system.

Antibiotics!!! Do we need them?

Antibiotics - Do the livestock need them

Ever wondered why antibiotics are good, bad or evil? Well if you need an orientation session with the use and misuse of antibiotics, this is your space to read.

We all know definitions are important, so here we go. For a technically sound person the word ‘Antibiotics’ are agents which work against microorganisms. To put it into lay man perspective, these are substances/compounds which kill or slow down the growth of harmful bacteria, fungi or similar bugs that thrive on other living or dead things.  By the end of that “Layman term” explanation we would have understood that there isn’t a layman term for antibiotics and you don’t have to Einstein or for that matter Sheldon your way (Courtesy big bang theory) to understand the science behind antibiotics.

To make things clearer lets classify them into four practical categories (Oh I would love to classify them into seven different ways so that you need to classify the classification types to complicate matters, but this not what we intend to graduate in).

  • Chemically – Molecular structures (Beta lactams, Quinones, Aminoglycosides……)
  • Target microorganisms (Antibacterial, Anti-fungal, Anti protozoal… )
  • Mechanism of action(Cell wall, enzyme, DNA….)
  • Evolutionary ( 1st generation, 2nd gen, New world )

Use of Antibiotics in the feed industry

Firstly not all antibiotics those are used as feed additives for animals and used in humans for treatment. The importance of this fact is rivaling many issues on banning of antibiotics as feed additives.  We will touch base with this statement again when we deal with the statement of antibiotic resistance. In the livestock industry antibiotics are used primarily for three reasons

  1. Treatment of bacterial, fungal and other infectious diseases.
  2. Prevention of infections , as a precautionary in feed compulsion.
  • Growth promotion,to improve final body weight of birds raised for meat.

Many antibiotics used in treatment of livestock used for meat purpose are the same antibiotics used in humans. These include a major share of quinolones. Although the figures below in the table reflect otherwise one should also consider that these antibiotics given under the treatment regime are given for a small 4 or 5 day schedule and often used in very small quantities. If proper withdrawal periods are used these antibiotics are excreted from the body of the animal well before slaughter. The table below shows us the volume compartmentalisation of antibiotic use.

Use by volume Humans Animal
Pencilins 44 % 6 %
Cephalasporins 15% 1%
Sulfa 14% 3%
Quinolones 9% less than 1%
Macrolides 5% 4%
Tetracyclines 4% 41%
Ionophores 0% 30%

In the next blog we learn more about antibiotic resistance and how it impacts us …