Preventing the need for ‘prevention’

Antimicrobial resistance is a well-documented knock-on effect of the over-use of antibiotics as a prevention method to maintain animal health and performance. But, as the noose around the neck of sub-therapeutic antibiotic use in livestock tightens, with various national and international regulations coming into force, different modes of ‘prevention’ are needed.

As Cat Berge observes in her article 'Antibiotic reduction in animal production', the majority of antibiotics used in animal production are not used to treat sick animals, but are used to treat unhealthy production systems. So what is the industry doing to solve the overuse of antibiotics? Well, a lot actually.

Dedicated to antibiotic reduction, the Antibiotic Reduction special issue explores different areas of animal production that can be optimised. This will lead to better protected animals, which in turn diminishes the need for preventative or sub-therapeutic medicine.

This could be:

  • nutritional solutions to prepare the gut for an influx of bacteria
  • biosecurity measures that ensure hygiene standards are the highest possible
  • housing situations that adhere to the welfare and well-being of the animal

In addition, action plans on antimicrobial resistance, such as those launched by FAO, WHO and the EU are also enabling and motivating countries to provide supportive actions in order to reduce infections and thus the need for antimicrobials. The industry is clearly working together to ensure our production systems are sustainable and healthy.


  • Catharina Berge

    Thank you for this great focus on antimicrobial use and resistance and healthy animal production.
    A question for thought. Is there a way that the industry can move the retailer and consumers to pay more for meat and dairy? Consumers are not paying enough for very high nutritious protein commodities that are expensive to produce. The consumers have gotten used to ridiculously low prices for meat. They are happy to pay 4-5 euros for a Frappucino Latte.. but are not willing to pay more than 10 euro per kg for pig meat or a euro per liter milk. Is there a way to brand 'sustainable antibiotic responsible' meat or dairy to create an added value, so that producers can afford to make the larger management changes necessary for healthy production?

  • joshua jendza

    This is being tried, but there is a problem of too many labels. Some mean precisely what they say, some are intended to deceive, and others are just confusing.



    I would add something to the discussion, that partially agrees with Catharina: I've seen a great part of population in America, even USA, that are not educated to drive more efforts to health and nutrition than to nice cars and famous brand clothes.
    What I feel is that animal production is not valued as it should be. Only big companies make real money due to economies of scale.
    Saying that, I believe that education would help a lot to reduce antibiotic, by acknowledging the merits of our farmers.

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