Organic farmed poultry is rapidly growing to become one of the largest organic industries in the country. Many conventional farms are converting to organic methods.
One of the primary reasons many consumers are demanding organic poultry is due to the overuse of antibiotics in conventional farming. The heavy dependance on antibiotics has been shown to encourage the growth of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, which can be passed to humans through contamination and occupational exposure. The World Health Organization has determined that the rate at which drug-resistant bacteria develops from conventional farming is far greater then the rate which medicines can be created to battle them.
Luckily, recent studies conducted by the University of Maryland show that drug resistance can be quickly reversed.
In Enviromental Health Perspectives
, Wendee Holtcamp discuss the study. Bacteria from conventional farms and recently converted organic farms were collected from the feed, water, and waste. Testing the bacteria determined that the rate of drug-resistant strains was significantly lower in the newly organic farms. These farms had just raised their first batch of organic broilers and already show a change. This study demonstrates that the consequences of antibiotic use can be reversed.
Along with other regulations, organic farmed poultry can't be given antibiotics from day one. However, the hatcheries which provide the eggs and chicks can give antibiotics to the layer hens and unhatched chicks. This is believed to account for the drug-resistance strains still prevalent on organic farms.