Antibiotics in chicken feed increases production cost

Using data from poultry giant Perdue, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that antibiotics slightly accelerated chicken growth, but that the benefit was offset by the cost of purchasing antibiotics.

The Johns Hopkins study is in line with a 2002 study by researchers at Kansas State University showing that the use of growth-promoting antibiotics provided no economic benefits during the "finishing" stage of hog production.
Medical and public health experts have long decried the use of growth promoting antibiotics (GPAs) as an important cause of antibiotic-resistant infections. Europe has banned the use of growth promoting antibiotics for this reason. Agricultural and pharmaceutical interests have defended the practice by arguing that GPAs are needed for efficient farm production, an argument that this new study refutes using the poultry industry's own data.
"We have never believed that shaving a few pennies off production costs justified the erosion of our valuable arsenal of antibiotics," said Richard Wood, Steering Committee Chair of the Keep Antibiotics Working coalition (KAW). "But the fact that in today's poultry operations, growth promoting antibiotics don't even reduce costs just strengthens the case for eliminating them. It doesn't make sense, or cents, to continue this practice."
Perdue and three other large poultry producers, Tyson, Gold Kist, and Foster Farms, say they no longer use antibiotics to promote growth. However, because the government does not collect drug use data, there is no way to verify these claims. In addition, companies such as McDonald's and Compass Group, one of the largest contract food service companies in North America, have adopted policies that prohibit the purchase of certain meats if the animals were given antibiotics important in human medicine to accelerate their growth.

Editor WorldPoultry

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