Sanderson Farms to discontinue use of certain antibiotics in live poultry ops
Sanderson Farms announced that it will discontinue by March 1, 2019, using antibiotics considered medically important for humans for disease prevention in its live poultry operations. The change follows the completion of an independent study the Company commissioned earlier this year on its antibiotics program for its live operations. As part of its ongoing animal welfare and antibiotic stewardship efforts, the Company commissioned an advisory board of scientific experts in poultry production, livestock management, and antibiotic use in veterinary and human medicine to study and report on the Company's use of antibiotics in its live poultry production operations. The advisory board found no misuse of antibiotics at Sanderson Farms or other deficiencies in its program. Instead, the advisory board found that compared to the rest of the industry, the Company's broiler chickens "have better than average health," and that "current management practices, including their use of antibiotics, are effective to preserve the health and life of chicks and birds." The advisory board also believes the number of broiler chickens treated with antibiotics for disease at Sanderson Farms in 2017 "is low relative to conventional operations of comparable size." Commenting on the advisory board's report, CEO Joe Sanderson said, "We are grateful for the work of the independent scientists who served on the advisory board, and we value their findings. As a result of their report, we have determined to discontinue by March 1, 2019, the use of gentamicin and virginiamycin for prevention of disease in our live operations. These are the only two antibiotics considered medically important for humans that we currently use for prevention purposes. Our live production team, including our team of veterinarians, is prepared to ensure this change has as little impact as possible on the health and welfare of our birds and environmental resources."