Sanderson Farms said that it plans to continue using antibiotics on its birds, partly because there is no alternative for treating a common gut disease. Enteritis can be deadly if not treated properly, Reuters reports.

Two of the biggest makers of animal drugs have told Sanderson Farms that developing products to treat the gut disease necrotic enteritis is not profitable enough to justify the effort, said CEO Joe Sanderson. Enteritis is treated with antibiotics including virginiamycin and bacitracin.

"They just don't have anything in the pipeline," Sanderson added. He declined to identify the companies. Sanderson is concerned the birds would suffer and die from the condition without antibiotics.

It costs the companies too much money to develop alternative drugs, he said, adding "the market is so small it's not worth it."

Tyson Foods, which announced that it was going to eliminate the use of antibiotics in its chickens by September 2016, has said it plans to push for accelerated research into disease prevention and antibiotic alternatives on farms. The company "will not let sick animals suffer," CEO Donnie Smith said last month.

Source: Reuters