Even livestock are not spared from anti-microbial resistance

Monday, October 7th, 2019 00:00 |
Paultry farming. Photo/Courtesy

Christine Nderitu

Sometime last year, I visited poultry farms in Bangladesh to learn production practices.

Among the farms were those registered under the department of livestock and got training and support on poultry farming, and unregistered farms that basically run their farms based on what they knew, or copied, from trained farmers but had no formal support. 

One of the differences between the farmers was that while the registered farmers often consulted with veterinarians before administering antibiotics and only used a specific antibiotic for a single disease, unregistered farmers treated chicken without consulting and often used multiple antibiotics for a single disease.

At the same time, while registered farmers had an antibiotic withdrawal period, where they did not use antibiotics on chicken older than 20 days, the unregistered farmers had no antibiotic withdrawal period.

They could treat their chicken with antibiotics and a few days later put them out in the market.

A recent study, Global trends in antimicrobial resistance in animals in low- and middle-income countries, has found a new public health threat: the rise of antibiotic resistance (dangerous bacteria adapting and becoming unresponsive to antibiotics designed to fight them) in farm animals particularly chicken, pigs and cattle.

This has been as a result of more farmers increasingly using antibiotics to meet the growing needs of animal protein.

The Food and Agriculture Organization says while meat production has plateaued in high-income countries since 2000, it has grown by 68 per cent, 64 per cent, and 40 per cent in Africa, Asia, and South America respectively.

The implication of antibiotic resistance is not just on animal production and livelihoods, but also on human health and unfortunately, Kenya has made it to the list of countries with the strongest cases of multidrug resistance among farm animals. 

With broiler chicken flooding the market it’s time to have more strict regulation on antimicrobial use.

More on Health