For years many organizations have been urging farmers to cut back on their use of antibiotics, whether they are used to help prevent disease or treat sick animals. A recent report from the National Resources Defense Council suggests that those campaigns have begun paying off.
The report was published Dec. 7 by Avinash Kar and Eili Klein of the Center on Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy. It references the World Health Organization and the CDC’s push to prevent antibiotic resistant diseases and the link that overusing the drugs can cause.
According to the report, sales to farms of antibiotics important to human medicines have dropped for the first time in six years. From 2015 to 2016, sales specifically for livestock and animal use have dropped by 14 percent.
Chickens use the least amount of antibiotics compared to cows and pigs. The FDA reports that only 6 percent of the drugs were used for poultry.
For many years the poultry industry has been working towards these changes following many large companies requiring their chicken products to be antibiotic-free, and recommendations from federal organizations to reduce the amount of drugs and restrict the reasons to give the birds antibiotics.
Antibiotics are used only for prevention methods against diseases, not to promote growth in birds. The drugs that are used to enlarge chickens must be injected and that is impractical for the poultry industry where most farms contain hundreds of thousands of hens.