Vets set guidelines on poultry antimicrobials

By Poultry World staff

THE British Veterinary Association has produced guidelines on the prudent use of antimicrobials, as part of its ongoing strategy to promote the responsible use of medicines for animal species.

It claims that their use since the 1950s has assisted health of livestock, improved food safety and is justified on welfare grounds.

For poultry, the guidelines state: Detailed preventive medicine programmes should be documented for all companies and/or farms.

These should include all routine medications such as anticoccidials, digestive enhancers, anthelmintics, competitive exclusion and probiotic treatments and vaccines, some of which are non-prescription medicines.

There is a legal requirement for veterinarians to record all medicines administered to food-producing animals. All medicines supplied to the farm must be recorded.

All prescribing of antimicrobials for poultry should be for animals under the care of the prescribing veterinarian and a copy of the prescription should be retained by the veterinarian for at least three years.

In an outbreak of animal disease, ideally the results of antimicrobial sensitivity testing should be ascertained before therapy is started.

“In disease outbreaks involving high mortality or where there are signs of rapid spread of disease among contact animals, treatment may be started on the basis of clinical diagnosis.

Nevertheless, the antimicrobial sensitivity of the suspected microorganism should, where possible, be determined so that if treatment fails it can be changed in the light of the results of antimicrobial sensitivity testing.

“Trends should be monitored over time and may be used to guide clinical judgement on antimicrobial usage.

It is recognised that prophylactic medication may be appropriate in certain precisely defined circumstances in poultry production.

“Each practice should develop a written policy or protocol covering the circumstances in which this is considered appropriate.

The possible effects of antimicrobials on other aspects of preventive programmes should be considered.

Use of fluoroquinolones in commercial poultry outwith the data sheet recommendations is to be strongly discouraged; for example, use of these products for dipping of eggs intended for hatching chicks or poults intended for human consumption should be avoided.

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