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Mark Karimi


Nutritional tools for antibiotic reduction


Functional ingredients’ specific effect on reducing antibiotic application on poultry farms has been discussed in this interview with a poultry expert, Mark Karimi.


BY JACKIE DOYLE, AGRICULTURE MARKETING CONSULTANT


Nowadays everyone is talking about poultry farming with no antibiotics whatsoever. How do you see it? First of all, I’d like to say that probably the most important development in medical science in the last 60 years is antibiotics, not only for human treatment, but also in animal husbandry. It is very important to know that the fundamental use of antibiotics in animal husbandry is to treat sick animals. No creature deserves suffering when a solution is available to avoid it. Therefore, there is no question about the treatment of infected animals with antibiotics. However, in poultry farming and, just on some occasions, it would be more efficient to use antibiotics for the prevention of bacterial disease too. In such cases, the birds that receive antibiotics are not infected, but the risk of infection is extremely high or even inevitable. In this case, a veterinary surgeon may decide to provide a prophylactic treatment, which of course is based on their epidemiological and clinical knowledge.


It seems you believe antibiotics must be used when needed? Yes, you are right! However it should be used at the right time and in the right conditions. Replacing good farm management and correct nutrition with unnecessary antibiotic application is one of the worst things happening on some poultry farms at the mo- ment. When we face a microbial problem on our farms, we need to find out what we could have done to prevent such problems occurring in the first place. We should question ourselves; have we really done enough to make our birds healthy and fit during the entire production period? It is a fact that the genetic selection for increased bodyweight in


94 ▶ GUT HEALTH | DECEMBER 2020


modern broilers and turkey birds has led to a decrease in the rela- tive weight of their primary and secondary immune organs. For sure, such a change has lowered the bird’s ability to resist diseases to the same degree as they use to. What is the farmer’s responsi- bility in this case? Probably keeping biosecurity tight is the first thing to do. However, this is not the only way to prevent prob- lems. Unwanted microorganisms may find their way into a chick- en house. The question is: how prepared are your birds to fight back? And, in this regard, have we provided them with the best possible environment, health plan and nutritional help to make sure they face no unnecessary stress? Some environmental and managerial stressors, such as chick han- dling in the hatchery/farm, transport from the hatchery to farm, early vaccination in the hatchery/farm, etc can’t be avoided. Even some later stresses, such as heat stress, post-vaccination stress and also microbial challenges are quite hard to be avoided. How- ever, when it comes to nutrition, I believe we have enough tools and the knowledge to support our birds.


When you say “when it comes to nutrition, we have enough tools and the knowledge to support our birds”, what do you mean by this? Raising poultry is not new to humankind, for thousands of years we’ve raised chickens for their meat and eggs. During the last 70 years or so, when we gradually learned how to select the best breeds to grow, we also learned how to feed them to reach their full potential. Although we are still learning and far from perfec- tion, through thousands of experiments carried out globally we have discovered many invaluable solutions for nutritional issues facing the birds. Nowadays, there are large numbers of high quali- ty and sustainable ingredients that we can use in the feed. Among them, there are some highly digestible, functional ingredients


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