by SUSAN MANN
Chicken farmers will no longer be able to use antibiotics considered important in human medicine in a preventative way for their poultry starting in May.
Chicken Farmers of Canada has implemented a policy to eliminate the preventative use of Category 1 antibiotics, a Health Canada classification that identifies the most important antibiotics used in human medicine, says Steve Leech, Chicken Farmers food safety, animal care and research program manager. The products include the Ceftiofur and Baytril family of antibiotics.
Ceftiofur is used at hatcheries to prevent yolk sac infection, he says. There isn’t widespread use of this type of antibiotic by chicken farmers and hatcheries. “Anecdotally there has certainly been a reduction in use in the last year to two years” but Chicken Farmers doesn’t have actual statistics.
Baytril use is “very, very low but it is still a Category 1 drug so we wanted to include it under the same policy,” he says.
Antibiotics listed in Health Canada’s second and third classification categories are less important in human medicine, and those in Category 4 aren’t used for human medicines. The Chicken Farmers policy just covers Category 1 antibiotics and not Categories 2 to 4.
Leech says the implementation date is May 15, 2014 and “it will be a mandatory requirement in” Chicken Farmers on-farm food safety program. The food safety program is mandatory in all 10 provinces, and more than 98 per cent of farmers are certified on it. All farms are audited annually as part of the food safety program.
Statements on both hatchery invoices and flock sheets will be included “to indicate that there’s been no Category 1 drugs used in a preventative fashion,” he says. “The food safety program will be the vehicle by which we enforce this.”
Instead of the antibiotics, chicken farmers, hatching egg producers and hatcheries can use management practices to mitigate the impact on first week mortality levels, he says. “That’s the impact we’re trying to mitigate through some of these management practices.”
Leech says Chicken Farmers’ on-farm food safety program received full recognition from federal, provincial and territorial governments in March and that “speaks to the credibility of the program” and it shows the commitment the industry has to food safety. BF