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Poultry health specialists expect that the use of


antibiotics will decrease further.


Gradual drop in sick birds


Animal health in the poultry sector will improve in the coming years. The reasons are, among other things, breeding, vaccine development, better feed, housing and management. The need for antibiotic usage will also decrease.


BY BERRIE KLEIN SWORMINK O


ver the next couple of years, there will be a lot of changes in the field of animal health care in poul- try farming. Scientific research will provide new insights and new possibilities to work on improv-


ing animal health. In addition to this, societal and political preferences are also changing which may impact animal healthcare. For example consider the increasing pressure on the use antibiotics. Changes is poultry farming will have con- sequences for animal healthcare also. An example of this is the trend to hatch broilers in the poultry house.


Animal welfare Attention to animal welfare has grown over the past couple of years. “This will remain the case for the coming years,” says Paul Cornelissen, vet at poultry veterinary practice Noord & Oost, Slagharen, the Netherlands. He is also the chairman of the poultry professional group within the Dutch veterinary or- ganisation KNMvD. “This is will be reflected in the training for veterinarians, with the results leading to a growing number of vets who will focus more on animal welfare within their work”. It seems that future poultry vets will operate in a sector that has a little more wiggle room than in the past. The focus will shift more towards welfare, which is, for example, the amount of space per animal in the poultry house, but also on the feed. “There is much to be gained in the poultry feed area,” says vet Gerwin Bouwhuis from the Poultry Health Centre (Gezondheidscentrum voor Pluimvee, the Netherlands). “I


expect that we will switch to feed with less protein, which will be beneficial to the animal’s gut. In addition to more locally grown protein, which is fine, it is also evident that insects will become part of the poultry ration in the future. This is a positive development, because chickens are naturally omnivores that eat both seeds, herbs, worms and insects”.


Fewer vets Poultry farmers will also feel the consequences of the decreasing number of vets that will specialise in farmed animals. For the poultry sector this means less poultry vets. Cornelissen: “This will influence the vets’ work. They will take on more of a managing role. Other people will have to perform tasks such as blood and collecting salmonella samples”.


Antibiotics Poultry health specialists expect that the use of antibiotics will decrease further. “10 years ago, 60 to 70% antibiotic use was connected to problems in the digestive system. These prob- lems hardly occur now due to better feed and management,” says Bouwhuis. “Right now, the use of antibiotics largely fo- cuses on dealing with enterococcus infections”. He expects that the market will determine the pace in the reduction of antibiotics use. Cornelissen: “I think that a reduction to 0 is a very real possibility”. Bouwhuis also expects that the resist- ance against so-called ionophoric coccidiostats will increase in the future. “This means that we have to find other ways to control coccidiosis. I propose using a strict schedule with chemical coccidiostats that are alternated with vaccination”.


▶ GUT HEALTH | DECEMBER 2020 75


PHOTO: LEX SALVERDA


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