Chicken Health: Avoiding Antibiotic Abuse through Laboratory Tests

Antibiotics are drugs used to treat diseases caused by bacteria and other micro-organisms, but they’re not effective against viruses. Antibiotic abuse occurs when antibiotic is given to healthy animals in low doses, or when the wrong antibiotic is used in treating disease. There are more than one antibiotic that can kill a particular bacteria, but not all are equally effective. Some antibiotics might be ineffective because the bacteria have developed resistance to them. This is known as antibiotic resistance. When antibiotic-resistant bacteria make your birds sick, treating them with that antibiotic will give no result. You may end up spending a lot of money on drugs and yet the birds won’t respond to treatment.

To avoid spending money unnecessarily while treating sick birds, it is important that you conduct a laboratory test that will help identify the sickness, after which an antibiotic sensitivity test is carried out to select the best drug to use. Any animal laboratory can perform this test for you for a fee. In Nigeria for example, AnimalCare® laboratory, Asaba, offers this service. The result of this test will tell you the most effective antibiotic to use in treating your birds.

Another benefit of lab tests is that it reduces the risk of antibiotic resistance among your flock. Abusing antibiotics by blindly administering them to birds can do you more harm than good.

In a situation where you have small number of birds, employing the service of a vet or paying for laboratory tests can eat up your profit. In some countries, animal laboratory may be very far from farmers and veterinary doctors may be scarce or there are many quacks. It is difficult to specify what “small number of birds” means here. It can differ base on factors like your cost of production and selling price of the birds. To see if it is worth going for lab tests or employing a vet, find out how much these services cost in your area and estimate what profit you’re expecting. If the cost will take up most of your profits, then it will be uneconomical to employ a vet or go for lab test. If any of these applies to you and if you live in a country where you have free access to antibiotics, you can guess which antibiotics to use base on the symptoms the birds are having. For example, respiratory diseases are usually treated with drugs containing tylosin. You’ll need an experienced farmer or a vet to guide you on this.

While giving antibiotics, ensure that you adhere to meat/egg withdrawal period to avoid antibiotic resistance occurring in humans.

Finally, the most important rule to follow is “prevention is better than cure”. Your birds will suffer less from incidence of diseases if you can follow best management practices like biosecurity measures, proper housing, proper vaccination plan specific for your area etc. There are herbs that have been proven to keep birds healthy. In one research that lasted for 6 weeks, broilers given a blend of plant extracts were not affected by diseases despite the fact that they were not vaccinated or given synthetic antibiotics. Growth was also improved.

Researches have shown that herbs and plant extracts are quite powerful, and the good news is that even a backyard farmer can plant and produce his own herbs and plant extracts. For more information about this, download this free ebook and discover powerful herbs and plant extracts you can make and use to improve the health and growth rate of chickens.

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