Responsible use of Vaccines and Vaccination in Poultry Production

RUMA guidelines for the responsible use of vaccines by poultry farmers have been designed to give easy-to-read guiding principles that can be used by poultry farmers in the management of their flocks.

Produced for the RUMA Alliance

The responsible use of medicines has always been a fundamental principle of good livestock keeping and is given further impetus by the encouragement of farm health planning under the Great Britain Animal Health and Welfare Strategy (AHWS). Farm health planning represents one of the direct ways in which the livestock sector, specifically individual producers, can be persuaded of the cost benefits of adopting on-farm health strategies. Best practice in the use of veterinary medicines must be an integral part of effective health planning, and these RUMA guidelines aim to define that best practice.

The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) is a growing coalition of organisations representing every stage of the “farm to fork” process. It has been set up to review and provide guidance on the use of medicines in all livestock. As part of this work
RUMA has established practical strategies to promote the correct use of vaccines in the poultry industry.

From the 1960s vaccines have made a major contribution to improving poultry health, welfare and productivity. They are a vital component in preventing a wide variety of diseases.

To communicate these strategies effectively to the industry RUMA has produced a comprehensive set of guidelines for the responsible use of vaccines in poultry and other livestock species. These give advice on all aspects from the initial risk assessment to best practice for their use. It also provides clear strategies for the implementation of effective vaccination programmes for farmers and veterinary surgeons to make best use of these valuable products.

When birds are exposed to infections and survive then they will develop immunity. They are then usually completely, or partially, immune or resistant to other attacks by the same organism. The bird when first infected may become ill and need treatment. Vaccination mimics infection. It provides immunity without the animals succumbing to the disease. Thus the animal becomes resistant to the disease before it becomes infected and so, if later on the bird is
exposed to the infection, it will usually not show any signs, or only minor signs, of illness. This will result in birds being healthier and also requiring fewer treatments. This is beneficial to the flock, the farmer and the consumer. All birds will be immune naturally from exposure to some diseases and there is no risk from consuming food from healthy birds that have been previously vaccinated to produce similar immunity.

This booklet summarises the responsibilities that farmers have as they use vaccines to safeguard the health, welfare and productivity of their poultry flocks.

The full version of these guidelines can be downloaded here.

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