GUELPH - It doesn’t seem to make much difference on the prevalence of antibiotic resistance at the time of chick placement whether chickens are raised to organic standards, without the use of antibiotics, or in typical commercial operations.
Tara Roberts, a doctoral student at the University of Guelph under the supervision of Michele Guerin, briefly outlined what her research has revealed so far during a meeting for poultry-industry leaders, a meeting organized by the Poultry Industry Council and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
"For bacteria such as E. coli, the only statistical difference Roberts identified between production system types was that the risk of resistance to trimethoprim-sulfa was lower for flocks raised without antibiotics compared to conventionally-raised flocks, and that this difference was based on environmental samples collected from empty barns immediately before chick placement."
Other than that, the bacteria in commercially-raised, organically-raised and antibiotic-free management all showed some degree of resistance to the full spectrum of products the poultry industry uses to counter harmful bacteria.
Her results have led her to conclude that antimicrobial resistance is a complex issue.
She said she’s pleased that the Canadian broiler chicken industry is involved in a nation-wide surveillance program on antimicrobial resistance.
It tracks management practices, the incidence of antimicrobial resistance and other key factors that could point to ways to reduce antimicrobial resistance and therefore any threat that might pose to the health of people.