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The real costs of antibiotic-free, slow-growing broilers

A future with only antibiotic-free and slow-growing broilers would be harder on the environment and the economy. In a presentation at the 2017 Chicken Marketing Summit, Dr. Matt Salois, director of global scientific affairs and policy for Elanco, outlined the consequences of farmers moving from conventional practices to no antibiotics ever or slower growing broiler production. If standardized, the practices would raise the number of birds needed to feed the same number of people, and lead to the consumption of more natural resources and creation of more pollution. Removing antibiotics from broiler production means higher mortality and greater risk for serious health disorders. Salois said antibiotic-free broilers’ increased mortality ranges between 24 to 25 percent, while grow out time is 3 to 4 percent longer and cycle time is increased by 21 to 29 percent.If the entire U.S. market moved to ABF, 680 million to 880 million more birds would be needed to provide the same amount of meat. Feeding and watering those birds would require 3,900 to 5,200 square miles of additional land for crop farming and 1.9 billion to 3 billion more gallons of fresh water. The same birds would produce 4.6 million to 6.1 million more tons of manure.

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Watt Ag Net