Human drugs have been crucial to poultry farming. So what’s replacing them?
For decades, farmers have used low doses of human antibiotics to fatten their chickens. In the future, if one company has its way, farmers will use a fungal extract originally found in a Japanese pigsty.
Welcome to poultry farming in 2018. In the past few years, with evidence linking antibiotics on animal farms to drug resistance in humans, poultry producers (Perdue, Tyson, etc.) and restaurant chains (McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, Burger King, etc.) have pledged en masse to limit antibiotics in their chicken. It’s easy to pledge, but harder to do. The shift has farmers scrambling to break their reliance on antibiotics and find new ways to help their birds grow.
Which brings us back to the pigsty fungus. Scientists at the Danish company Novozymes recently found that an enzyme in the fungus helps clear dead cells in chickens’ guts.