Canadian chicken farmers are working to reduce the use of antibiotics on their farms, and they’ve made huge strides so far!
Farming practices are constantly evolving, as Canadian chicken farmers look for ways to ensure that chickens are the best of health and safe for Canadians and their families.
We share the concerns of consumers and public health experts around the overall use of antibiotics. While they are an important part of modern human and animal medicine, it is critical that they not be overused. That’s why we’ve been working for years to limit the use of antibiotics on our farms.
We’ve made some big changes already but we’re not stopping there! The industry continues to examine methods to reduce antibiotic use.
The cornerstone of all our efforts is the Chicken Farmers of Canada antimicrobial use (AMU) strategy. This industry-wide initiative was developed in tandem with all industry stakeholders. This includes the Animal Nutrition Association of Canada, the Canadian Hatchery Federation, the Canadian Hatching Egg Producers, the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council, Turkey Farmers of Canada, and the Canadian Association of Poultry Veterinarians.
The most critical part of this strategy was the elimination of Category I antibiotics on the farm. Category I antibiotics are those considered of the most importance to human health, and in July 2013 chicken farmers created a policy to eliminate their use. As of May 15, 2014, Canadian chicken farmers are no longer permitted to use Category I antibiotics.
But we’re not stopping there. Eliminating Category I antibiotics is only a small part of our larger AMU strategy. Other major components of the strategy include analyzing antimicrobial resistance, reviewing best management practices, ensuring effective controls of AMU in Canada, educating stakeholders, as well as researching and sourcing alternative products.
In May 2017, Chicken Farmers of Canada announced that the chicken sector would eliminate the preventive use of Category II antibiotics by the end of 2018 and that a goal had been set to eliminate the preventive use of Category III antibiotics by the end of 2020.
Antibiotics are important tools for maintaining the health and well-being of our birds, and as a result, Chicken Farmers of Canada policy allows continued use of ionophores (antimicrobials not used in human medicine) as well as antibiotics for therapeutic purposes to treat diseases that affect the birds.
Ultimately, the goal of the AMU strategy is to ensure the continued effectiveness of antibiotics for both humans and animals.
To date, we’ve been able to make great strides in eliminating antibiotics. And we’ve been able to do it thanks to the supply management system.
Supply management ensures that rules and regulations are uniform across Canada, and it also makes the enforcement of said rules and regulations consistent and effective. Under less-regulated systems, industry policies – animal care, antimicrobial use, and more – may be implemented, but they are difficult to enforce. But the highly-organized nature of supply management means that national organizations are able to levy penalties on farmers who do not comply.
We take both human and animal health seriously – and we are able to ensure that all Canadian producers do, too. All policies that are adopted by supply-managed farmers are audited at each farm on an annual basis, meaning that safe and high-quality chicken is available from all chicken farms across the country.
Simply put, supply management means safety, for animals and humans alike. It’s a system that ensures antibiotics are used carefully and responsibly throughout Canada, and it’s a system that is worth preserving.