Changing Trends in Antibiotic Use in the Poultry Industry

Changing Trends in Antibiotic Use in the Poultry IndustryA major feature of poultry production nowadays is the reduction of in use of antibiotics as growth promoters, and this is majorly due to concerns over bacterial resistance.

Antibiotics used in a widespread manner as a feed additive can lead to development of Bacterial resistance as the residual antibiotics in the tissues of poultry can be consumed by humans. The bacteria resistant to antimicrobials may also get transferred from one individual to another individual leading to reduced performance of antimicrobials in humans.  This prompted the WHO in 1997 and the Economic and Social Committee of the European Union in 1998 to conclude that the use of antimicrobials in poultry could be a possible risk for the general health and well being of humans.

Many organisations are focusing their research on the development of alternative strategies to maintain the gut health of poultry and enhance performance of poultry by using various other substances, commonly known as natural growth promoters (NGPs). These Natural Growth Promoters have been identified as effective alternatives to antibiotics. A good popularity has been gained by Phytobiotics as NGPs especially, due to their beneficial effect on gut health, performance of birds and positive effects on the immunity of the bird.

Phytobiotics can be defined as plant derived products added to feed in order to improve performance. They originate from leaves, roots, tubers or fruits of herbs, spices and other plants. Phytobiotics are basically of plant origin, and popular extracts that are gaining interest among researchers and poultry producers are thyme, oregano, turmeric and garlic.

Keeping in mind the changing trends in the market, Vinayak Ingredients launched a natural growth promoter by the brand name Herbofloxin. Herbofloxin maintains the health of the gut and as an alternative to antibiotics. It has phyto-constituents of antibacterial nature that target the gut pathogens including important zoonotic bacteria. As a result, Herbofloxin promotes the growth of commensals.

Herbofloxin provides immune-modulator effect which improves tolerance to pathogenic bacteria and improves gastrointestinal micro-climate so as to improve the digestibility and uptake of nutrients. All these results almost nullify the requirement of antibiotics making it as an effective natural antimicrobial growth promoter.

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 …