‘Studies have shown that antibiotics are usually passed on to broilers and beef. Which is not gone even after cooking’
The poultry industry is a highly promising and important sector that helps meet the protein demand for low-income households in Bangladesh. However, chickens raised with the assistance of the regular use of antibiotics, not only for the prevention and treatment of diseases but also for body growth, pose an alarming threat for a large chunk of the population.
Overuse and misuse of antibiotics in animals are contributing to the rising threat of antibiotic resistance. Therefore, antibiotic-free broiler meat production is becoming increasingly popular countrywide to meet consumer demand.
Meanwhile, a team of researchers from Rajshahi University (RU) have successfully figured out ways to produce safe broiler chickens without the use of antibiotics, reports Bangla Tribune.
Funded by Rajshahi University, a team of scientists, led by two teachers of the department of veterinary and animal sciences Shariful Islam and Hakimul Haque, has been conducting research to this end for the last three years.
The researchers said that like typical farmers, they also used vaccines but did not use antibiotics found on the market for disease prevention and rapid growth. Instead, researchers are using extracts from plants that allow rapid growth in their chickens.
Usually, an antibiotic-free chicken at the age of 25-27 days weighs 1.5 to 2kg, say researchers while also claiming that it is better than ordinary broilers in terms of taste and quality.
Speaking to Bangla Tribune, researcher Hakimul Haque said: “Antibiotics for other animals are harmful to the human body. So instead, we use plant extracts. For example, I use Neem leaves instead of antiparasitic drugs and horseradish leaves instead of growth hormone for rapid growth. Horseradish leaves have antibacterial and growth-enhancing properties which also work to prevent chickenpox.”
Moreover, ginger is also fed to the chickens in winter to keep their body temperature up, said Hakim.
Antibiotic-free broiler chickens have a lower mortality rate, said Researcher Shariful Islam. “A Green Broiler chicken weighs 1.7-1.9 kg in 27 days, crosses 2kg in 32 days, and reaches 2.75-3kg in 36 days.”
This researcher also claimed that the mortality rate of these chickens was less than 2%. “When we experimented with 250 chickens in the first phase, only 5 chickens died. Of the last 500 chickens we experimented with, the mortality rate was less than 2%,” he said.
When asked about the cost of raising antibiotic-free chickens, Shariful said that even if antibiotics are not used, one has to be very careful about maintaining a healthy and hygienic environment. “We have to clean the coup every day where other farmers clean every two-three days later. Care should be taken so that the environment is not damp. Due to this, a little extra manpower is required.”
Antibiotic-free broiler meat produced over at the “Green Broiler” has become quite popular among university professors. Among them is Associate Professor Azizur Rahman Shamim of the Department of Pharmacy.
He said: “Studies have shown that antibiotics are usually passed on to broilers and beef. Which is not gone even after cooking. As a result, people are taking antibiotics along with meat. Antibiotics should not be taken without the prescribed dosage.”
Azizur Rahman further said that there were possibilities of a build-up of the antibiotic-resistant pathogen when underdosing on antibiotics.
Mentioning that the use of antibiotics in broilers has already been banned in various countries of the world including Europe, Azizur Rahman further said: “Broiler meat in our country is relatively readily available and it is on the food list of all classes of people. But a large part of consumers is losing their immunity due to antibiotics.”
Researchers say they are ready to train farmers to produce antibiotic-free broiler chickens at the district level with government support.