September 30, 2008


Antibiotics save US chicken industry 200 million chickens a year


Without antibiotics, US chicken farmers would have had to place an additional 200 million chicks to attain present production levels, a veterinarian told a US subcommittee meeting.


Dr Spangler Klopp,  the corporate veterinarian for Townsends, Inc was speaking at a hearing on 25 September of the House Agriculture Committee's subcommittee on livestock, dairy and poultry.


The judicious use of antibiotics have led to healthier broiler flocks producing more meat for the consuming public, according to Dr Klopp.


"Healthy chickens require less feed while using less housing space, produce less manure and produce more meat as compared to the option of not having these important interventions for our use," he added


Dr Klopp noted that livability has increased from less than 94 per cent in the early 1980s to almost 96 per cent today. Without that increase, he said, nearly 200 million additional chicks would have to be placed to produce the same amount of meat.


Mortality in chicken farms is a fraction of what is was in the 1960s, Dr Klopp said, largely due to the judicious use of animal health products.


"If the industry was not allowed use of appropriate interventions, an additional 2.8 billion chickens would have to be grown and processed annually," he said.


The subcommittee also heard testimony from federal agency representatives responsible for animal and human health as well as representatives from animal health groups. Testimony focused on how antimicrobials are used in animal agriculture and best management practices that help producers responsibly manage their use.


Congressman Leonard L. Boswell, Democrat of Iowa and chairman of the subcommittee said at the conclusion of the meeting that it is clear from the evidence given that antimicrobial use decreases mortality of animals, decreases disease, reduces cost of food and increases food safety.

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