Disinfection mats and hand sanitisers were a somewhat odd welcome at the recent IPPE in Atlanta. No live poultry to protect here, but it did bring the message home loud and clear to many visitors. The US poultry sector has a lot on its plate at the moment, between the AI outbreaks and the impending antibiotic ban.
Avian influenza outbreak
The avian influenza threat is a clear and present danger, especially with the latest outbreak in Indiana just 1 week before. The message in the lessons learned sessions, covering the outbreaks of last year wasn't very surprising; good biosecurity before and a quick and thorough culling, screening and disinfection process after the outbreak. The most recent outbreak could be a text book example, as far as can be concluded at this moment in time.
US ban on antibiotics – looking for the solution
However, is was not avian influenza what had the main attention at the exhibition. Poultry farmers and integrators were in large numbers trying to find 'THE' solution for the future, concerning the US ban on sub therapeutic antibiotic usage, starting in 2017. The first effects of the ban were already seen by some. Mike Donohue of Agri Stats, observed a slight decrease in broiler production, which may come from antibiotic-free production. Due to consumer trends and retail customers requesting birds free of antibiotics, the industry is using fewer tools and not gaining feed conversion.
And the solution for the precursors and stragglers alike is not a simple one. There is not a direct substitute for sub therapeutic antibiotics, not one additive, one management measure, nor one veterinary solution. Keeping broilers healthy after 2017 will involve the whole supply chain from the breeder flock, hatchery to the broiler house and cover all animal and farm management aspects which can be thought off. An intricate solution, but a very interesting one to figure out.