Antibiotics: To be or not to be?


#10 of 21 Things You May Not Know about Peace Valley Poultry

     January first is the deadline when many antibiotics used on animals raised for human consumption will require a veterinarian feed directive, or VFD. I've received several emails warning that I need to be ready when the January one deadline rolls around. I just deleted them with the thought, it doesn't affect me. I've never used antibiotics in the 21 years we have been raising poultry.

     That does not mean our birds were always the model of health. Years ago we brooded our day old chicks on pine shavings that were on a dirt floor. Dirt is where clostridium perfringens live and they can cause necrotic enteritis in poultry. The death of the intestinal lining causes poor feed absorption and the birds do not grow well at all, and often die.

     Joe Sanderson knows this. He said that a primary reason Sanderson Farms will continue to use antibiotics is to treat enteritis. They rolled out an ad campaign August 1 to educate people about antibiotic use and initially plan to spend 5-6 million $ on this effort. In a TV ad that I saw, those “other” producers who claim “no antibiotics ever” are just doing it so they can charge more money. Sanderson Farms makes the point that FDA regulations require all chicken to be free of antibiotics, that is the drugs must be withdrawn in time for all traces to be absent from the carcass. I've never heard of each flock being tested to see if everyone did their job to feed only antibiotic free feed during the withdrawal time. I suppose in a perfect, non fallen world, communication would be exact, glitches would be unheard of, confusion non existent and all medicated feed stopped at the right time.

Isn't it interesting that Perdue Farms has eliminated antibiotic use in half of their flocks. Perdue has developed a proprietary PRObiotic that leaves little space on the gut lining for bad guys to adhere. I would call Perdue proactive and Sanderson reactive.

     We try to be proactive. When we switched to brooding our chicks in wood boxes with pine shavings, instead of shavings over dirt, we discovered that necrotic enteritis almost disappeared. Placing the wooden boxes in full sunlight is a great sanitizer between batches of chicks. I talked to my daughter's husband's mother's sister's husband tonight. (got that?) He has been a poultry flock field man for a long time and now oversees organic layers. He stated that it takes a higher degree of management to grow with out antibiotics.

      Randolph Mitchell, vice president of technical services at Perdue Farms, noted that once you transition over to no-antibiotics-ever (NAE) or antibiotic-free (ABF) production, sanitation becomes a paramount priority. This is also what raises production costs, not reduced performance or increased mortality.

     Yes, Joe Sanderson, our chicken is much more expensive than yours for many reasons, one of which is the degree of management that they receive that enables us to grow with out any antibiotics or sulfa drugs.

On Our Farm

Yes! Isaac picked up the last batch of chicks on Thursday morning. The picture at the top of this post shows them safely residing in their wagon (mentioned in #10 above). Time to plan your winter supply.

The first beeves are scheduled to go to the processor on Monday.

ALL of our chickens that were old enough to be outdoors happened to have their hoop houses in a low area of the farm that had no outlet Friday night last week when the heavy rain was falling. Jim and JudyJo were hurrying home from an hour away while Isaac guarded the chickens. Finally having arrived home, we were making contingency plans for rescuing 2000 chickens when ... the storm turned! We felt really blessed.

Even though fall weather has not come yet, fall is here, and the heat doesn't seem to be as threatening. We are looking forward to the predicted cooler weather soon to come, though. The chickens and turkeys will appreciate it as well.

 Fresh chickens for sale Tuesday (farm) and Wednesday (Springfield/Mansfield), September 27/28.

Our chicken will be for sale again fresh on Tuesday and Wednesday. Between our sale dates, you may purchase them frozen at the farm, or fresh or frozen at one of the fine stores that carry our chicken products, (for stores, see the bottom of the Locations tab on our website: Location Link).

FRESH CHICKEN SCHEDULE: Peace Valley: Tuesday, September 27, 2-6 p.m., on the farm Mansfield: Wednesday, September 28, call for time & to let us know you are coming. Springfield: Wednesday, September 28, noon till 1 p.m. Rolla: We hope to come once a month, or so. Call or email for information.