One of a series of blogs written by CABI editors for One Health Day November 3rd 2016
Most antibiotics in livestock farming are used in aquaculture, but significant amounts are also used in terrestrial livestock species, particularly in poultry and pigs.
Approximately 70% of antibiotics are used for non- therapeutic purposes, i.e. many antibiotics are used in sub- therapeutic doses and over prolonged periods, which leads to the development of genes that confer antimicrobial resistance to animal pathogens. These genes can subsequently be transferred to human pathogens and it is estimated that 75% of recently emerging diseases in humans are of animal origin.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) problems are further exacerbated by the fact that antibiotic resistance genes were found in bacteria long before antibiotics were ever used on super-pathogens in farm animals.
AMR is a worldwide problem, which clearly affects both animal and human health, and hence it is truly One Health issue.
By M Djuric, DVM
African Swine Fever (ASF) continues to spread in traditionally endemic sub-Saharan Africa, but it is also expanding into previously ASF-free countries with a new front opening up along the Caucasus and Eastern Europe.
The risk of ASF entering China is of particular concern since the country keeps almost half of the worldwide pig population. China is also the biggest importer of pork and has very strong links with ASF-infected countries in Africa. China also shares a border with the ASF-endemic Russian Federation.
China and Asia in general have never encountered ASF, and therefore there is a concern that the region may be unprepared for a potential outbreak of ASF, which could have catastrophic consequences on global pork supply.
To build ASF preparedness and to address the policy gaps, the European Union (EU) -funded LinkTADs research consortium brought together 40 experts from the EU and Asia for the “African Swine Fever Policy Event” in Beijing on 24 November 2014.
By M Djuric, DVM
A consortium of 22 research partners from 11 countries has received a £10.6m grant from the European Union (EU) to improve pig and poultry production. This is the largest EU grant awarded in this field. The project aims at investigating ways to increase animal production quality, whilst limiting environmental impact and preserving profitability for the farming and animal food production sectors.
The research will be carried out by the Prohealth consortium, consisting of 10 academic partners, one European association, four industry partners, and seven small and medium-sized enterprises. The consortium has expertise in animal physiology and immunology, genetics and nutrition, veterinary science and epidemiology, socioeconomics, as well as welfare and production science of pigs and poultry. The consortium members come from Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and UK. The project was launched in Newcastle upon Tyne on 17 December and will be co-ordinated by Newcastle University.
Pork is still the most popular meat globally, followed closely by poultry meat. Global production of pork in 2011 was 109 million tons, accounting for 37% of the total meat, while poultry meat production reached 101 million tons, according to a recent report from the Worldwatch Institute
These data represent a 0.8% annual decrease in pork production and a 3% annual increase in poultry meat production. If this trend continues poultry meat is likely to become the most-produced meat in the next few years.
Production of both beef and sheep meat stagnated at 67 million and 13 million tons, respectively.
Total meat production rose to 297 million tons in 2011 (0.8% annual increase) and is projected to reach 302 million tons by the end of 2012 (1.6% annual increase).
Concentrated animal feeding operations, also known as factory farms, account for 72% of poultry production, 55% of pork production and 43% of egg production worldwide.
By Miroslav Djuric, DVM
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) marked the 5th European Antibiotic Awareness Day (18 November 2012) by releasing a statement in which it reaffirms its commitment to promoting responsible use of antibiotics, but also warns that political measures to reduce antimicrobial resistance in Europe and the UK are not based on sound science.
The statement lists activities undertaken and measures implemented by the BVA to promote responsible use of these medicines, including the BVA’s poster campaign for responsible use of antibiotics and the BVA’s membership of the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance, which contributes significantly to European-wide guidance on antimicrobial use. The BVA also successfully lobbied for responsible use of medicines to be enshrined in the new Code of Professional Conduct to which all vets in the UK must adhere.
By Miroslav Djuric, DVM
Following the successful eradication of Rinderpest (Cattle plague, see blog), veterinarians, farmers and donors across the World are turning their focus to combat Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) on a global scale. The FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) have developed a detailed strategy for FMD control under the umbrella of their Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs). However, it is clear that only a massive commitment of national and international resources can make FMD eradication possible, as surveillance and monitoring over a long period is required.
FMD is a highly infectious disease caused by a picornavirus, which affects cloven-hoofed animals, in particular cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and deer. Other animals including camelids and elephants can also be affected. The disease is notifiable, which means that the local veterinary services must be notified immediately if FMD is suspected.Although FMD does not pose a direct threat to human health, and is rarely fatal in animals, it can cause reduced milk yield, weight loss and lower fertility.
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that giving animals a better environment makes them less stressed, less likely to behave abnormally, and sometimes more productive. However, most of that evidence comes from small-scale trials, and scaling improvements up to the practicalities of large farms could prove costly and burdensome. Is it environmental enrichment a realistic option for farmers?
In an article in CAB Reviews, Laura Dixon of the Scottish Agriculture College looks at the practicalities and how environments can be improved. She says that the main approaches are through providing foraging opportunities, structural complexity, sensory stimulation or novelty, and social stimulation from other animals or humans. The type of enrichment that helps differs from animal to animal – poultry benefit from perches, while ducks prefer water troughs. Allowing birds to forage or to use water troughs and dust baths has been shown to reduce abnormal behaviour, and often leads to better growth. However, the “wilder” environment can be difficult to clean and need more maintenance, with more risk of disease.