French chicken farmer shares antibiotic-free success
Careful house preparation, strong biosecurity and thorough water treatment have proved successful for a farmer based in western France.
Stephane Dahirel produces broilers and turkeys without antibiotics in Brittany, home to approximately one-third of France’s production.
Read the entire report about this French chicken farmer's antibiotic-free success exclusively in the March issue of Poultry International.
An independent poultry producer whose birds go to McDonald’s and supermarkets, he cherishes his independence, citing it as being key in being able to switch to antibiotic-free production, and performance data would appear to show that his approach is working.
Dahirel and his wife operate five poultry houses and produce 210,000 birds per cycle, with the help of an additional farm hand when needed and, unusually for France, produce heavier birds.
The decision to stop using antibiotics was Dahirel’s own, and not taken in response to consumer pressure.
Dahirel explains: “I did not want to simply reduce antibiotic use, but stop producing with them altogether. The result of complete withdrawal has given us better results.”
Feed conversion on the farm across males and females is on average 1.68, comfortably within the range of 1.56 to 1.80 that might normally be expected. Daily weight gain averages 74.5 g.
Mortality rates are low – an average of 4.39 percent – clearly below the 5 percent figure generally considered to be good. Rejects stand at 0.7 percent, comfortably within the average of 0.3-1.15 percent. An average of 48.5 kg of chicken is produced per square meter.
Phophylactic antibiotic use has been stopped, as well as for therapy. According to Dahirel, there are no diseases on the farm. Vaccination is carried out to prevent viral infections, such as Gumboro disease and infectious bronchitis, and perhaps the only issue is colbacillosis. If problems arise, then phytotherapeutic products are used.
But to be in this position requires careful preparation.
The two main strands to Dahirel’s antibiotic-free poultry production are stringent biosecurity and water treatment.