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Antimicrobials are included in commercial animal feed rations in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We measured antimicrobial use (AMU) in commercial feed products consumed by 338 small-scale chicken flocks in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, before a gradual nationwide ban on prophylactic use of antimicrobials (including in commercial feeds) to be introduced in the country over the coming five years. We inspected the labels of commercial feeds and calculated amounts of antimicrobial active ingredients (AAIs) given to flocks. We framed these results in the context of overall AMU in chicken production, and highlighted those products that did not comply with Government regulations. Thirty-five of 99 (35.3%) different antimicrobial-containing feed products included at least one AAI. Eight different AAIs (avilamycin, bacitracin, chlortetracycline, colistin, enramycin, flavomycin, oxytetracycline, virginamycin) belonging to five classes were identified. Brooding feeds contained antimicrobials the most (60.0%), followed by grower (40.9%) and finisher feeds (20.0%). Quantitatively, chlortetracycline was consumed most (42.2 mg/kg SEM ±0.34; 50.0% of total use), followed by enramycin (18.4 mg/kg SEM ±0.03, 21.8%), bacitracin (16.4 mg/kg SEM ±0.20, 19.4%) and colistin (6.40 mg/kg SEM ± 4.21;7.6%). Other antimicrobials consumed were virgianamycin, avilamycin, flavomycin and oxytetracycline (each ≤0.50 mg/kg). Antimicrobials in commercial feeds were more commonly given to flocks in the earlier part of the production cycle. A total of 10 (9.3%) products were not compliant with existing Vietnamese regulation (06/2016/TT-BNNPTNT) either because they included a non-authorised AAI (4), had AAIs over the permitted limits (4), or both (2). A number of commercial feed formulations examined included colistin (polymyxin E), a critically important antimicrobial of highest priority for human medicine. These results illustrate the challenges for effective implementation and enforcement of restrictions of antimicrobials in commercial feeds in LMICs. Results from this study should help encourage discussion about policies on medicated feeds in LMICs.

Original publication




Journal article


PloS one

Publication Date





Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.


Animals, Chickens, Poultry Diseases, Anti-Infective Agents, Animal Husbandry, Animal Feed, Vietnam