All farm animals, whether reared indoors in controlled-environment houses, free-range or organically, can suffer from disease and parasitic attack and deserve the treatment and protection provided by antibiotics and other veterinary medicines.
The British Poultry Council promotes the responsible use of veterinary medicines appropriate to the health needs of the birds.
Medicines or vaccines can only be prescribed by a qualified veterinarian who will set the dose, method of application and withdrawal period, in accordance with the Marketing Authorisation.
These withdrawal periods state when treatment should be stopped to ensure that there is no trace of the veterinary medicine in the bird by the time the flock leaves the house for processing. For poultry, veterinary medicines are usually administered to birds through the drinking water or feed.
Poultry feed includes anti-coccidials which are similar to the worming treatment given to domestic pets. This protects the birds from a disease caused by protozoan parasites, which can affect all farm animals and pets.
No antibiotic or hormonal growth promoters are used in poultry production, and in fact these are prohibited by law in EU livestock farming.
The BPC is an active member of the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) which has issued comprehensive guidelines to farmers on the responsible use of antibiotics in poultry rearing and in other livestock farming sectors.