The use of antibiotics in poultry production is an effective way to keep chickens healthy and reduce the spread of diseases. However, the use of antibiotics for growth promotion or other non-therapeutic purposes is not permitted in poultry production.

In the USA, there are several approved antibiotics that can be used for poultry. These drugs are used to treat infections, diseases, and illnesses in chickens, ducks, turkeys, and other birds. The poultry industry is a multi-billion dollar business that produces millions of pounds of meat every year. As such, it is vital that these animals are treated quickly and effectively if they become ill.

What are antibiotics?

An antibiotic is a drug that inhibits or kills the growth of pathogenic bacteria within the chicken. It is used to treat diseases and respiratory infections that maybe be caused by bacteria. Antibiotics use in poultry farming has been regulated to conform to the healthy living of human consumers and also to reduce toxicity in the chicken.

The use of Antibiotics is part of poultry production medications. The fragile nature of chickens has made their production a meticulous one. Chickens need adequate care and attention to enhance their productivity. Irrespective of the type or nature of production, a poultry farm must have a medication schedule that shows different drugs to be administered in a certain period.

Part of this schedule is the use of antibiotics in poultry and other immune-boosting poultry drugs. You need to know the antibiotics approved for use in poultry before administration.

There are different types of antibiotics used in poultry; some have been observed to have detrimental effects on human health owing to their residual effects but under control, some have been approved for use in poultry production.

There are two kinds of antibiotics, considering their mode of action. They are:

  • Broad spectrum antibiotics
  • Narrow spectrum antibiotics

Broad-spectrum antibiotics are antibiotics that are effective in treating a wide range of infections. The narrow spectrum antibiotics are another kind that is effective against only a few types of bacteria.

Drugs that act on bacteria are classified as:

  • Bacteriocidal: They are drugs that kill bacteria.
  • Bacteriostatic: These are drugs that slow the growth of bacteria.

Approved Antibiotics For Poultry Use

The approved antibiotics for poultry use are listed below. These drugs are used to treat and prevent infections in chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese and other animals raised for food.

1) Aminoglycosides

These compounds are derived from species of Streptomyces bacteria. These antibiotics block the synthesis or formation of the protein that aids bacteria growth. The growth of such bacteria will threaten the immune system of the chicken. Examples of antibiotics that contain Aminoglycosides are Gentamycin, Neomycin, Streptomycin, and Spectinomycin. They are effective in treating enteric infections.

2) Beta-lactams

There are two major types of these antibiotics: Penicillins and Cephalosporins. Penicillins are the first antibiotics to be discovered; they are made from the molds of Penicillium notatum. Penicillins are bacteriocidal; they kill bacteria by inhibiting the formation of the cell wall of the bacteria, hence, exposing the content present in the cell.

Examples of penicillin antibiotics are Ampicillin and Amoxicillin. Penicillins are antibiotics for chickens with respiratory infections; they are very effective at treating various poultry diseases such as sinusitis and chronic respiratory diseases in poultry.

3) Ionophores

Ionophores have both antibiotic and coccidiostat properties and are best used as feed additives to treat coccidiosis in poultry.

4) Lincosamides

They are produced by Streptomyces licolnensis. Lincosamides antibiotics penetrate into the tissue, including the bones. They are very effective in treating bone and joint infections and necrotic enteritis. An example of antibiotics that contains these compounds is Lincomycin.

5) Macrolides

These are bacteriostatic antibiotics; they inhibit protein formation in the pathogen. An example of macrolides antibiotics is Tylosin. Macrolides are effective in treating necrotic enteritis.

6) Bambermycins

These are gotten from some species of Streptomyces bacteria. These antibiotics inhibit the synthesis of the bacterial cell wall. Examples of Bambermycins antibiotics are Bambermycin and Flavophospholipol. They are effective in treating gram-positive pathogenic bacteria.

7) Polypeptides

Polypeptides are antibiotics effective at treating various poultry diseases like E coli. Salmonella and Pasteurella. Examples of antibiotics that contain polypeptides are Bacitracin and Polymyxin E.

8) Quinolones

These are synthetic antibiotics, they are not derived from microorganisms; they prevent bacteria from multiplying. They are broad-spectrum antibiotics. Chicken antibiotics with these compounds are Difloxacin, Norfloxacin, Flumequine, Enroflaxin, and Danofloxacin. They are effective in treating various poultry diseases like Fowl cholera, Salmonellosis, Colibacillosis, etc.

9) Streptogramins

Produced by Streptomyces spp. They are bacteriostatic; they inhibit the protein synthesis and cell wall formation of the pathogen. Virginiamycin is an example of Streptogramins; it is good at treating necrotic enteritis.

10) Tetracyclines

Tetracyclines are another antibiotic produced by the bacteria Streptomyces spp. They are broad-spectrum bacteriostatic. Tetracyclines prevent the pathogen from multiplying within the host. Examples of tetracycline antibiotics are Chlortetracycline and Oxytetracycline.

11) Sulfonamides

These are broad-spectrum antibiotics and are bacteriostatic in nature. They distort the nucleic acid, DNA and RNA, which are responsible for cell growth and replication. An example of Sulfonamide antibiotics is Trimethoprim; which is very effective against E. coli, Pasteurella, Salmonella, Streptococcus, etc.

Precautions of Antibiotics For Poultry Use

Antibiotics are a great tool for treating disease in poultry, but if not used properly, they can cause more harm than good. Here are some tips for using antibiotics safely and effectively:

-Always follow the directions on your antibiotic product label. If you don’t understand the directions or have questions about how to use your product, don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian or pharmacist for help.

-Use antibiotics only as directed by your veterinarian. Antibiotics are powerful medicines that should be used only when necessary. If you don’t need an antibiotic, don’t use it.

-Never give antibiotics to birds that aren’t sick (i.e., prophylactically). This practice encourages the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and puts your entire flock at risk of becoming ill from those bacteria.

-Don’t use antibiotics in place of proper hygiene practices and biosecurity measures. These practices will help keep your flock healthy without relying on medications that can cause problems if misused or overused.

Final Thoughts

Antibiotics are used to treat diseases in poultry. The use of antibiotics in animal agriculture is a common practice worldwide. Antibiotics are used on farms to treat sick animals, prevent the spread of disease, and promote growth.

However, not all antibiotics are approved for use in poultry. It is important for farmers to use only approved antibiotics for treating their chickens, or risk losing their license to sell eggs or birds. Chicken antibiotic dosage must be noted to avoid overdose or indiscriminate use of a drug. Adhere strictly to the instruction embedded in the pack to enhance the effectiveness of the drug.

There are other natural antibiotics for chicken, such as garlic extract, ginger extract, and other herbs used for chickens. These are basically used for organic chicken production.

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