Antimicrobial use surveillance in broiler chicken flocks in Canada, 2013-2015

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There is a paucity of data on the reason for and the quantity of antimicrobials used in broiler chickens in Canada. To address this, the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance (CIPARS) implemented surveillance of antimicrobial use (AMU) and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in broiler chicken flocks in 2013. Shortly after this (2014), the poultry industry banned the preventive use of ceftiofur in broiler chickens. The objectives of this analysis were to describe antimicrobial use (AMU) in Canadian broiler chickens between 2013 and 2015 (n = 378 flocks), compare these results to other animal species in Canada, to highlight the utility of farm surveillance data to evaluate the impact of a policy change, and to explore how different antimicrobial use metrics might affect data interpretation and communication. The surveillance data indicated that the poultry industry policy resulted in lower antimicrobial use and resistance, and they successfully captured information on when, where, why, and how much antimicrobials were being used. The majority of antimicrobials were administered via the feed (95%). The relative frequency of antimicrobial classes used in broiler chickens differed from those used in swine or in food animal production in general. Coccidiostats were the most frequently used antimicrobial classes (53% of total kg). Excluding coccidiostats, the top three most frequently used antimicrobial classes were bacitracin (53% of flocks), virginiamycin (25%) and avilamycin (21%), mainly used for the prevention of necrotic enteritis. Depending on the AMU metric utilized, the relative rankings of the top antimicrobials changed; hence the choice of the AMU metric is an important consideration for any AMU reporting. When using milligrams/Population Correction Unit (mg/PCU) the top three antimicrobial classes used were bacitracins (76 mg/ PCU), trimethoprim-sulfonamides (24 mg/PCU), and penicillins (15 mg/PCU), whereas when using a number of Defined Daily Doses in animals using Canadian standards /1,000 chicken-days at risk (nDDDvetCA/1,000 CD) the ranking was bacitracins (223 nDDDvetCA/ 1,000 CD), streptogramins (118 nDDDvetCA/1,000 CD), and trimethoprim-sulfonamides (87 nDDDvetCA/1,000 CD). The median animal treatment days in feed for one cycle (ATD/ cycle) during the three-year study were 34 ATD/cycle; this was equal to the mean age of the flocks at pre-harvest sampling day (days at risk), indicating that the studied flocks except those that were raised without antibiotics and organic, were fed with medicated rations throughout the observation period. Overall, more than half (59%) of antimicrobials used in broiler chickens were in classes not used in human medicine, such as ionophores and chemical coccidiostats aimed to prevent coccidiosis. Compared to grower-finisher pigs and in production animal species (national sales data), the mg/PCU of antimicrobials used in broiler chickens was relatively lower. The findings of this paper highlighted the importance of farm-level AMU surveillance in measuring the impact of interventions to reduce antimicrobials in poultry.




Agunos, A., Léger, D. F., Carson, C. A., Gow, S. P., Bosman, A., Irwin, R. J., & Reid-Smith, R. J. (2017, June 1). Antimicrobial use surveillance in broiler chicken flocks in Canada, 2013-2015. PLoS ONE. Public Library of Science.

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