Antimicrobial Stewardship and the chicken meat industry

Farmers and chicken companies have an obligation to ensure the chickens in their care are free from disease and are as healthy as possible. Therefore, access to appropriate tools, such as farm hygiene, vaccines and antimicrobial medicines is essential. To not treat sick birds would compromise their welfare, and potentially allow them to suffer.

Use of antimicrobials may result in the development of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) bacteria, which subsequently reduces the efficacy of antimicrobials to treat bacterial infections. However, AMR bacteria can enter chicken meat production through a variety of pathways including contamination with AMR bacteria.

Antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) is the term used to describe all practices that aim to maintain the efficacy of antimicrobials and reducing the risk of resistance developing. These AMS programs involve implementing strategies to reduce the incidence of disease, refining the duration of treatment and reducing the potential of antimicrobial use in creating AMR bacteria. The Australian chicken meat industry has a long history AMS, which is evidenced by low levels of disease and AMR bacteria.

Ensuring the health and welfare of Australian meat chickens is a core priority listed in the AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program RD&E Plan 2022-2027, which includes focus on AMS. The Australian Chicken Meat Federation website contains details regarding the use of antimicrobials, AMR and AMS in Australian meat chickens.

Recent AMS publications in the Australian chicken meat industry include:

For further information

Visit the Australian Animal Industries Antimicrobial Stewardship RD&E Strategy, of which AgriFutures Australia is a funding partner.