Improvements in animal health management, including the judicious use of antibiotics, have led to healthier broiler flocks producing more meat for the consuming public, according to Dr. Spangler Klopp, testifying for the National Chicken Council at a congressional hearing.
“Good chicken health through the responsible use of vaccines and antibiotics is obviously important in feeding the American public and is equally important in enhancing the quality of the environment and socioeconomic style of life in rural America,” Klopp said. “Healthy chickens require less feed while using less housing space, produce less manure and produce more meat as compared to the option of not having these important interventions for our use,” he added. Klopp is the corporate veterinarian for Townsends, Inc. He spoke at a hearing Thursday of the House Agriculture Committee’s subcommittee on livestock, dairy and poultry.
Klopp noted that livability has increased from less than 94 percent in the early 1980’s to almost 96 percent today. Without that increase, he said, nearly 200 million additional chicks would have to be placed to produce the same amount of meat. Field-related condemnation is a fraction of what is was in the 1960’s, Klopp said, largely due to the judicious use of animal health products. “If the industry was not allowed use of appropriate interventions, an additional 2.8 billion chickens would have to be grown and processed annually,” he said.
The subcommittee also heard testimony from federal agency representatives responsible for animal and human health as well as representatives from animal health groups, others in the animal agriculture industry, and academia. Testimony focused on how antimicrobials are used in animal agriculture and best management practices that help producers responsibly manage their use.
“It is clear from today’s hearing and the testimony of producers and veterinarians in the field, that antimicrobial use decreases mortality of animals, decreases disease, reduces cost of food and increases food safety,” said Congressman Leonard L. Boswell, Democrat of Iowa and chairman of the subcommittee. “I believe in science-based research. Healthy animals bring us healthy food, and science plays a huge role in that.”
“Today, the subcommittee heard undeniable evidence supporting the judicious use of antimicrobials in animal agriculture,” added Congressman Robin Hayes, Republican of North Carolina and the ranking GOP member of the subcommittee. “I hope that careful consideration is given to this record by those groups and individuals who are advocating arbitrary limitations on these vital animal health tools.”
The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce, process and market chickens. Member companies of NCC account for approximately 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.