Excessive use of antimicrobials in intensive livestock farming as One Health issue

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.

Livestock

Most antibiotics in intensive livestock farming are used for non-therapeutic purposes

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.

 

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Workshop on “Food Security: Infectious Diseases in Farm Animals” brings together animal and veterinary scientists from Egypt and the UK

St. Catherine’s College, Manor Road, Oxford, UK,  4-7th April 2016 

Attended by M Djuric, CAB International, Wallingford, UK, on 5th April 2016 (Day 2)

This workshop meeting was jointly organised by the Pirbright Institute, Woking, UK and Cairo University, Egypt and was sponsored by the British Council Research Links Programme.

There were 50-60 delegates in attendance at the meeting, with approximately one-half of delegates coming from various faculties and Research Institutes of Cairo University. The other half of participants came from the UK, including the Pirbright Institute, Woking, Royal Veterinary College (RVC), University of London, Surrey University and Roslin Institute, Edinburgh.

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Venue: St. Catherine's College, Manor Road, Oxford

In total, 21 oral presentations, excluding invited speakers, and 17 posters were included in the meeting programme.               

A representative of the British Council, Shaun Holmes, was scheduled to provide information on Newton Fund News and Future Funding Opportunities on day three of the meeting. I attended on behalf of CABI on day two of the event.

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Veterinary visits to become mandatory in European farming

By Miroslav Djuric, DVM, CAB International, Wallingford, UK

The European Agriculture Council has formally approved a draft law on animal diseases that are transmissible among animals and potentially to humans (zoonoses).

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The provisions in the law on farm animal health visits stipulate that professional animal owners are to receive regular animal health visits from a veterinarian for disease prevention, detection and biosecurity. This new piece of legislation aims to merge and update existing scattered directives and regulations into a single and coherent law.

It is announced as an important step forward, since visits by vets are the cornerstone of the ‘prevention is better than cure’ strategy and indispensable for the prevention and early detection of known and emerging transmissible diseases. The role of the veterinarian in achieving this is defined and highlighted. The veterinary profession also has an active part to play in raising awareness of animal health and of One Health, or the interaction between animal health, animal welfare and public health.

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Animal Genetic Research Increasingly Focuses on Medical and Pharmaceutical Markets rather than on Food Production

By Miroslav Djuric, DVM, Editor of Animal Breeding Abstracts

According to a recent report by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), patenting activity in the field of animal genetics is focusing on medical and pharmaceutical markets, rather than animal products for human nutrition.

The Patent Landscape Report on Animal Genetic Resources was presented at the 8th session of the Intergovernmental Technical Group on Animal Genetic Resources at FAO in Rome on 27 November 2014. This report is the first ever large-scale quantitative analysis, grouping data on patenting activity involving livestock animals, and is the outcome of WIPO’s collaboration with the Animal Genetic Resources Branch of FAO. Hen2014

More than 14 million patent documents on 17 animal species and subspecies, central to global agriculture and food security were analysed, spanning the period between 1976 and 2013.

A quantitative indicator of trends in patent activity for animal genetic resources has been developed - it can be updated and refined over time to respond to policy needs. The indicator shows that patenting in the area of animal genetic resources for food and agriculture peaked in 2001 and has been declining since then. It is speculated that this decline may be linked to more-restrictive patent laws and lagging consumer demand for genetically modified animals.

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Reconciling Modern Animal Production Systems and Sustainability

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.

Pig-dThe 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.

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Global Meat Production Continues to Rise – Pork and Poultry Meat Are the Most Popular

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.

Chickens

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.

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Where’s my ball? How practical is it to give farm animals a better environment?

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?

3236592471_3b361623b3In 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.

 

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