The movement toward other forms of poultry production continues. In the case of laying hens, the pressure is tremendous because it combines the drastic change of not using cages with no antibiotics.

I am not going to discuss cages or antibiotic resistance, topics that offer a lot to talk about. I want to talk about something that seems inevitable: not using antibiotics in production.

Last week I attended the Biomin Antibiotic-free Days in Vienna in a seminar entitled “Solving the antibiotic-free production puzzle” focused on layers. A particular topic of the speakers seemed of paramount importance to me: the necessity of a holistic approach, although it is not that we are trying to square the circle. Just as a reminder, holism is a theory that the universe and especially lifeforms are correctly seen in terms of an interacting whole that equals more than the sum of elementary parts (as per Merriam-Webster).

Reality as a whole. All in a single set of things. This is something that applies to poultry production even with cages and antibiotics. In the Biomin seminar, they talked about things that would seem obvious, such as biosecurity, which does not stop at the entrance to the farm; about procedures that must be put in place, which do not include exceptions and which undoubtedly entail extra work.

We can use alternative products, but what about the cleaning of the poultry houses? It must be a full cleaning, even the roof. How many clean the roofs? Who removes biofilms in water pipes and nipples? Who monitors water temperature? And water quality? Everything in production forms a whole.

If you do not take care of things as simple as these, there will be more sick birds without cages and without antibiotics (and more work for veterinarians!). There should be no doubt that we cannot expect the same results as before with other products. And if alternative products are used, there will be no good results if we do not change. A holistic approach is needed. What do you think?