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Organic parasite control for poultry and rabbits in British Columbia, Canada

DOI: 10.1186/1746-4269-7-21

Keywords: poultry, rabbits, ethnoveterinary medicine, ectoparasites, endoparasites, British Columbia

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Consumers, butchers and restaurant-owners are increasingly demanding that meat animals be reared in environmentally-sensitive ways that also take animal welfare concerns into consideration (e.g. access to pasture); these organic farming management practices also improve meat quality [1-5]. The meat from poultry and rabbits is more efficient to produce in terms of land use, feed and water use than beef and pork and thus produces a lower environmental impact [6-10]. Some consumers are also concerned about chemical residues (like flubendazole) in meat [11,12]. The access to pasture demanded by animal welfare agents increases the need for parasite control in food animals [11,13]. Organic agriculture allows a restricted number of substances to be used for pest control.Some conventional livestock farmers add subclinical levels of antibiotics to the animal feed of millions of food animals as growth promoters [14]. Some of these antibiotics are not absorbed and are excreted in manure which is then applied as a fertilizer to food crops. As much as 387 g of chlortetracycline and 202 g of tylosin per hectare is estimated to be added to the soil with the application of pig manure. Greenhouse studies conducted on corn (Zea mays L.), green onion (Allium cepa L.), and cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. Capitata group) showed that all three crops absorbed chlortetracycline from pig manure but tylosin was not absorbed [14]. Botanical and mineral products used for animal health are less likely to become soil contaminants than chlortetracycline since they are natural products.Extracts and essential oils of various plants such as Rosmarinus officinalis L. (rosemary), Mentha piperita L. and M. virdis (L.) L.(mints), Artemisia absinthium L. (absinthium, or wormwood), Chenopodium ambrosioides L. (epazote), Thymus vulgaris L. (thyme) and Origanum vulgare L. (oregano) have potential for use as parasite controls because they have insecticidal activity. For example, essential oils of Melissa offic


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