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Antibiotic Reduction Poultry Conference 2016: Richard Turner reviews this year's event.

St David’s Poultry Conference 2016: Review 

In total there were 175 attendees at this year’s Antibiotic Reduction focused conference, and we were full, having to turn away some late applicants, which only shows how topical the subject was and how important the speakers were. We hope those that attended, enjoyed the event and found the speakers intellectually stimulating.  

The first speaker, Professor Colin Hill outlined the importance of the Bacterial Microbiome, and detailed the use of replacing bacterial populations in humans with Clostridial difficile infections. Recovery after a faecal transplant was amazing to hear about, and I still think there could be a business opportunity in transplanting thin human faecal material as a dieting aid! That might test the best marketing campaign! The effect of bacteria against other bacteria, with the production of bacterins gave an insight into a new therapeutic approach, and it will be very interesting to see if his team’s work on salmonella in pigs and mastitis in cows can overcome regulators natural precautionary approach, and be available to all of us instead of antibiotics. If anyone would like to meet Colin and discuss possible research opportunities in using phages or bacterins against campylobacter, please let me know.

Professor Richard Ducatelle took a more detailed look at the interactions of bacteria within the gut and the changes seen with different feeds. The development of tests to survey the gut floral ecosystem and monitor effects of changing feed ingredients will be a fascinating new area where vets and nutritionists will need to work closely together. The role of one bacterial group to promote another group, shows that this is a continually changing population, and gives even more importance in understanding what populations we change with treatments of any type. Some essential oils are anti-bacterial, and the spectrum of effect might also have negative impacts on beneficial bacteria. We simply just don’t know the effect of some treatments, it is not just Antibiotics that cause a concern.

Professor Steve Collett gave a detailed explanation of his Seed, Feed and Weed concept. This protocol was developed by Steve, copied by many, and where used correctly is a simple system to develop, set up and support the gut flora. I have heard Steve speak before and spent 4 days driving him around the UK seeing clients. I still find it fascinating how he develops the story, and his presentation is always very engaging. There is a lot more to SFW when you start to look at removal of coccidiostats, which is not easy. Again, he is more than happy to speak with anyone who would like more information.

In the afternoon the first speaker was Linnea Newman, who I thought gave us all a very frightening wake up call from USA. We are all used to the idea that broiler farming in America is low input with no removal of litter, and the use of antibiotics as growth promoters. The last 12 months has seen a quantum change in approach, possibly led more by marketing requirements that a core desire to reduce usage. The outcome is that many birds are reared without antibiotics and some with total AB freedom. My worry, like many, is that the same food retailers who demanded these changes in America are high street names in Europe.

Differences in management, early development of a normal gut flora, and the use of many vaccines in ovo/at day old, make comparisons difficult, but it is clear that production without antibiotics is possible, if more expensive and challenging.

The final speaker, Luiz Dematte, gave an excellent review of how his company in Brazil has developed ABF production, and although their weekly numbers were relatively low, they certainly have produced a well marketed and interesting range of products.

In summary, I hope the speakers have shown that there is light at the end of the tunnel, but it might be both more expensive and difficult to produce birds with less antibiotics. Twelve months ago, the overall atmosphere was to hope it wouldn’t happen, but with changes in America, it could be closer than we know. We now have to start running our own trials on how to achieve ABF production and what management changes will be required. It is great to see all major integrators working hard on this, and I am sure we will look back, like we now do on growth promoters, and realise we can further reduce AB and take this great industry forward.



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