Diary of a Poultry Farmer on Antibiotics Use

Antibiotics has become an integral vaccine for most industries. From humans to animals. Recent studies have shown an increase of antibiotic resistance. However, some poultry farmers still relies on the effectiveness of antibiotics. An article by Daily Nation argues why:

Improved poultry management

You see, I’ve since tried to improve my poultry management practices such as vaccination, segregation of flocks by age, optimal sanitation and ventilation systems, better feed, and improved biosecurity, but my chicks are still dying.

To say the truth, I’m not the only farmer grappling with this problem. Some time back, I received an email from Kibet who was contemplating starting to rear poultry but was concerned about outbreak of diseases.
“Is it necessary to give them antibiotics regularly to prevent from infection and death?” he asked me.
“Apart from routine vaccines, farm biosecurity and de-worming, I don’t give healthy chicken any antibiotics. I only administer antibiotics to sick birds when the vet recommends,” I told him.

Well, I have realised that using antibiotics only when the birds are showing signs of illness and after consulting a veterinary surgeon to diagnose and prescribe the appropriate treatment comes at a cost. These include dead birds, high cost of drugs that have to be administered at the full treatment dose and consultation fee.

Production cycle
I’ve been advised to give antibiotics to the entire flock to prevent infection from sweeping through the population at vulnerable points in their production cycle.
In fact, apart from treating animals with bacterial infections, the antibiotics can be used to prevent infections and to promote faster growth.

The so-called “prophylactic” or “metaphylactic” antibiotics are usually mixed with water or food. In fact, by simply mixing very low quantities of antibiotics in the feeds, a feed miller or farmer can reduce infections in the flock and stimulate faster growth thereby making more money.

The downside of this practice is that it harms human health as bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. A recent study by the University of Nairobi’s toxicology laboratories found that samples taken from the city’s meat sources of Gatundu, Thika and Limuru had high amounts of antibiotics that could lead to resistance.

Another thing the vets have advised, which I always observe, is to withdraw eggs and meat from the market for at least 72 hours and seven days respectively after administering a course of antibiotics to the birds.

For now, after weighing the pros and cons, I will not use antibiotics unless my chickens are sick and a vet officer has recommended.
What I have decided is to link up with Paul Mwangi, a Pest Control Surveyor, who will be visiting my farm to offer recommendations on the rodent menace so that I see if disease incidences would go down once I eliminate rats.

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