Antibiotics – Usage Falls for Second Consecutive Year
The Game Farmers’ Association (GFA) announced last week that gamebird producers have, once again, massively reduced the use of antibiotics. Since the industry’s voluntary campaign to reduce antibiotics began two years ago overall use has fallen by 51%; with antibiotics incorporated in gamebird feed down a remarkable 70%.
As we know, over-reliance and over usage of antibiotics in the gamebird and farming industry could potentially lead to difficulties. There has already been an increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria found across the globe. When a human is infected with a bacterium that has grown resistant to antibiotics, the illness becomes harder to treat, the cost of treatment is increased, and the chances of mortality increase markedly.
As the gamebird and farming industry was warned several years ago, much of this resistance can begin with the food chain. The NHS agree that the threat is real, “drug-resistant strains could be passed to humans more generally when they prepare or eat the meat” and the gamebird sector have taken upon themselves to solve this issue – clearly with great success.
However, it is not just the gamebird industry fighting back against antibiotic resistance. For example, poultry farmers have several systems in place, such as areas colour coded and designated to specific ages of birds and specific colour of clothing – this is designed to reduce cross contamination. Poultry farms also make use of a robotic farm assistant, this allows farmers to isolate sick birds and treat them before bacterial infections spread.
Pig farms, on the other hand, are using monitoring devices to record the coughs of pigs. Any animals not sounding right is isolated and treated, thereby stopping the practise of treating the entire herd. This is something that the gamebird sector also attributes to its massive reduction, with the GFA saying “The difference reflects a continuing focus on treating actual disease outbreaks rather than feeding medicated rations ‘just in case’”.
As well as the GFA, the latest statement highlighting the reduction on antibiotic use was also welcomed by The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), the Countryside Alliance (CA), the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation and the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association.
The gamebird sector should feel a great pride in how well the voluntary reduction of antibiotics has gone so far, however we can’t be complacent and must continue on this path. By continuing with this success, the industry will hopefully be left alone by the government, preventing involuntary reductions set by the government from materialising – something that nobody in the industry wants to happen.
For the full report by The Game Farmers’ Association on gamebird reduction, click here.