US poultry producers slashed their use of medically important antimicrobials over a five-year period ending in 2017, according to a new report released by Randall Singer, DVM, PhD, Mindwalk Consulting Group, LLC.

This scientific report was supported by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY).

Key changes among broiler chickens over the 5-year period show:

  • Broiler chickens receiving antimicrobials in the hatchery decreased from 93% to 17%.
  • Hatchery gentamicinuse decreased approximately 74%.
  • Medically important in-feed antimicrobial use in broiler chickens decreased by as much as 95% (tetracycline).
  • Medically important water-soluble antimicrobial use in broiler chickens decreased by as much as 72% (sulfonamide).
  • There was a documented shift to the use of antimicrobials considered not medically important to humans by FDA (e.g., avilamycin and bacitracin).

“What made this special was that participation in the study was voluntary but nevertheless extensive,” Singer said in an interview with Poultry Health Today.

For example, he noted, the 2017 data represented more than 7.5 billion chickens, approximately 90% of annual US chicken production, based on a list of major US poultry companies compiled by WATT PoultryUSA.

The report cited several reasons for the downturn in antimicrobial use:

  • Changes in FDA regulations, which were fully implemented in January 2017, effectively eliminated the use of medically important antimicrobials for production purposes and also required veterinary supervision for in-feed and water-soluble medically important antimicrobial uses in poultry production.
  • Poultry companies’ continued focus on hygiene practices, nutrition and vaccine use to prevent disease, thereby reducing the need to address disease with antimicrobials.
  • Improved recordkeepingof all antimicrobial administrations, which is a key component of antimicrobial stewardship.

“This research is the first step in determining how antimicrobials are used in the entire poultry-production system of the US, and to succeed, we need participation from the majority of companies. We couldn’t be more pleased with the response of the poultry industry,” said John Glisson, DVM, PhD, vice president of research, USPOULTRY said in a press release.

Click here to see the full report.