In the fourth part of RUMA’s spotlight on the Poultry Meat sector, the BPC shares with us the core principles of delivering good welfare.
RUMA spoke with Chief Executive of the British Poultry Council, Richard Griffiths, who talked us through the key welfare foundations.
Mr Griffiths says: “A billion birds are reared for food every year in the UK, making up around half the meat the country eats. The British poultry meat sector influences some of the most pressing social issues of our time, from food security to nutritional health, from animal health and welfare to ensuring everyone has access to safe, wholesome and nutritious food.
“Our world-class farming and animal welfare standards are at the heart of the sector’s contribution towards feeding the nation. We take pride in our commitment to deliver excellence in bird health and welfare; to ensure responsible use of antibiotics, and to safeguard the efficacy of antibiotics – having ourselves as ‘pathfinders’ for other food and farming sectors in the UK and across the world.”
Mr Griffiths outlines below the guiding principles for delivering excellence in bird health and welfare:
The poultry meat sector was the first UK livestock sector to collect and share antibiotic usage data with the Government’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). Data collected by the BPC is published every year as part of the UK-Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance (UK-VARSS) Report. The BPC collects and monitors usage of all antibiotic classes in the UK poultry meat industry to promote best practice throughout the supply chain.
Rapid on farm diagnostics
We want to use diagnostic and sensitivity testing tools used in human medicine to better map bird health and welfare, evaluate the impact of disease control programmes and implement robust surveillance. We are keeping a watchful eye on any new innovations to develop a methodology for rapid on-farm diagnostics to increase speed of antibiotic sensitivity testing and ensure early diagnosis.
Sharing best practice
By using antibiotics responsibly and remaining transparent by sharing learnings and success stories, BPC members (who represent 90% of UK poultry meat production) openly communicate their actions and share best practice in a precompetitive way.
Understanding patterns of resistance
The British poultry meat sector is committed to supporting scientific research into examining the link between antibiotic use and resistance in the poultry production chain, understanding patterns of transmission, and tackling antimicrobial resistance
Looking at alternative strategies
The British poultry meat sector is committed to keeping pace with science and innovation and exploring alternatives to antibiotics.
Mr Griffiths adds: “We prioritise the health of our birds without the need for routine use of antibiotics and ensure successful delivery of the three essentials of stockmanship.”
The three essentials of stockmanship
- KNOWLEDGE of animal husbandry
- SKILLS in animal husbandry
- PERSONAL QUALITIES of the stockman
Cornerstones of responsible use
- REPLACE, REDUCE AND REFINE… These are the cornerstones of our Stewardship and are implemented by our people at every step of the production chain.
- REPLACE Review and replace antibiotics used where effective alternatives are available.
- REDUCE Reducing the number of birds receiving treatment, through systems based on risk assessments.
- REFINE Continue to refine existing strategies, using data collection.