Slower growing broiler crosses for reduced antibiotic use
In Europe, the demand for high-quality poultry meat is rising. This tendency goes hand in hand with understanding and implementation of animal welfare and activation of organic farming. There are points in the organic farming format which conventional farmers can use to reduce the frequency of diseases and antibiotic usage. One of these points is to use slower growing broiler crosses and another is lower stocking densities.
The classic conventional broiler crosses are fast growing and kept in high densities so they are more susceptible to heath disorders including bacterial and protozoa diseases which are usually treated with antibiotics.
Today there are a lot of offers in Europe for various farming systems. The slow growing broiler crosses are more suitable for organic farming, but there are also offers for differentiated growing broiler crosses which are more robust and less sensitive to heath disorders. These can be used in conventional farms and can be realized from day 48. There are also possibilities to choose specific dwarf breeds for parent stock to reduce feed costs but at the same time maintain high productivity levels.
Stocking density also influences animal health and spread of disease. Reductions in bird count or bird live weight mass per m2 play an important role in both productivity (better weight gain) and disease incidence.
In conclusion, animal welfare, vaccination programs and biosecurity programs will play an important role in overall flock health level, but in combination with differentiated and slower growing broiler crosses, it is more feasible to keep broilers healthy, reduce antibiotic usage and offer high quality poultry meet to consumers.