Written by ChatGPT and edited by Maurice Pitesky and Joseph Gendreau from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine-Cooperative Extension

 

ChatGPT Generative Term: Write a one and half page summary of how backyard chicken owners should use antibiotics responsibly in order to reduce antimicrobial resistance

 

 

Believe it or not, as a backyard chicken owner you play a significant role in the global effort to reduce antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a growing public health concern. As small-scale poultry keepers, it is essential to understand and practice responsible antibiotic use to protect the health of your chickens and the broader community. This article aims to guide backyard chicken owners in using antibiotics judiciously to mitigate AMR.

 

What is Antimicrobial Resistance?

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microorganisms gain the ability to resist the effects of drugs designed to kill them. Overuse and misuse of antibiotics in both human and animal populations contribute to the development of resistant bacteria.

 

Disease Prevention and Good Management Practices

The first line of defense against poultry diseases should always be prevention. Implementing good management and biosecurity practices can significantly reduce the need for antibiotics by preventing the introduction of an infectious disease to your flock.

 

Consult with a Veterinarian

When chickens do fall ill, consulting with a veterinarian who specializes in poultry or avian health will greatly contribute to a better outcome for the birds. We highly recommend finding a veterinarian even before you get your chickens as finding a veterinarian who treats poultry can be challenging. Even veterinarians that treat pet birds may not treat poultry. If you live in Southern California, here is a link to veterinarians in Southern California who self-report as treating backyard poultry. If you live in California and need a veterinarian outside of Southern California here is a list of veterinarians. Big picture, if your chickens have an infectious disease, a veterinarian can work with you to diagnose the disease, identify the appropriate treatment, and recommend alternative treatments that do not involve antibiotics, if applicable. If antibiotics are required, your veterinarian can write a prescription as described below.

 

Accurate Diagnosis

Responsible antibiotic use begins with an accurate diagnosis. Backyard chicken owners should not self-diagnose or self-medicate their flock. Only a qualified veterinarian can identify the specific pathogen causing the illness and prescribe the most suitable antibiotic if necessary. When an inappropriate antibiotic is used, the potential for the development of more bacterial resistance exists.

 

Follow Prescription Instructions

If antibiotics are prescribed, it is imperative to follow the veterinarian’s instructions precisely. Adherence to dosage, duration, and withdrawal periods is crucial to ensure that the antibiotic effectively treats the infection and minimizes the risk of resistance. Even if you have the correct antibiotic you increase the risk of antimicrobial resistance by not following the veterinarian’s instructions.

 

Avoid Using ‘Internet’ Antibiotics

Resist the temptation to order antibiotics online without  professional guidance. These medications may not be effective against the specific pathogen, leading to treatment failure and potentially contributing to antimicrobial resistance.

 

Discourage Routine Antibiotic Use

Antibiotics as a class of drugs are a truly amazing treatment for bacterial diseases. However, they should be used as rarely as possible in order to reduce the amount and type of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

 

Alternatives

In addition to optimal biosecurity, husbandry and nutrition consider using pre and probiotics as a preventative. While they are not a panacea, the research on their efficacy as a preventative is solid and well established.

 

Conclusion

Backyard chicken owners are essential stakeholders in the effort to reduce antimicrobial resistance. Responsible antibiotic use is a crucial component of this endeavor. By emphasizing disease prevention, consulting with veterinarians, accurately diagnosing illnesses and following prescription instructions, backyard chicken owners can play a significant role in mitigating AMR. As caretakers of backyard chickens, your efforts will ultimately help safeguard both the health of their flocks and the broader community.