Farmers Encouraged To Look Beyond Antibiotics

Monday, January 8th, 2018 | 1284 Views

Pharmaceutical company MSD Animal Health (also known as Merck Animal Health in the US and Canada) is asking farmers to look beyond antibiotics at an event during the Oxford Farming Conference held in Oxford, UK.

The event focused on how the animal health industry can work together to overcome antimicrobial resistance and encourages farmers to embrace change.

Dr Paul Williams, technical manager for MSD Animal Health stated: “The issue of antimicrobial resistance spans all industries, sectors and services. Disease prevention, not treatment, is part of the solution and it requires a change of mind-set. It also can’t be achieved in isolation, we need to work together.”

“Vaccination has an important part to play in disease prevention and thereby reducing the need for antibiotics,” emphasised Dr Williams. “Vaccination rates in the cattle, sheep and pig sectors remain low. We need to understand why this is, and how we can overcome barriers to vaccination.”

The pharmaceutical company has researched farmer attitudes about vaccination, and results reveal that 67 percent of UK farmers would not vaccinate against a disease unless they have had an outbreak.

“We’re not surprised by this,” commented Dr Williams, “but once there has been an outbreak, the damage has already been done. Equally, disease cost is unpredictable—it could spread, impact production and even cause death. Vaccination costs are predictable and can be planned ahead.”

Vaccination is not the only solution to disease prevention that the pharmaceutical company is highlighting. “Biosecurity, good hygiene practice and proactive farm management and husbandry are also all part of the solution,” continues Dr Williams. “By focusing on improving animal health we can reduce the need for antibiotics, and animal welfare standards will also improve.”