The usage of antibiotics in animal production

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“A integrated approach can help us to reduce the amount of antibiotics in animal production”. Prof. Leo den Hartog, Director of R&D at Trouw Nutrition since 2001, presented about the usage of antibiotics in animal production in a seminar organized by Trouw Nutrition.

Prof. Leo den Hartog, Director of R&D at Trouw Nutrition, presenting on antibiotic reduction strategies
Prof. Leo den Hartog, Director of R&D at Trouw Nutrition, presenting on antibiotic reduction strategies

Leo den Hartog has long and prized career as researcher and lecturer of Animal Nutrition. His perspective on how to approach the global concern on antimicrobial resistance is a valuable insight in such an extended and complex matter. The part-time Wageningen University professor explained that too many antibiotics are used in animal production, becoming a global issue in the agenda of nearly all countries around the globe.

In his opinion, the challenge can only be faced with an integrated approach. “A drastic reduction of antibiotics in food production can be achieved if we move to a new farming model based on integrated and multi-stakeholder collaboration”, he explained.

Three main steps to reduce antibiotics
During his lecture in the event organized by Trouw Nutrition Selko, Prof. den Hartog explained that the first step towards antibiotic reduction is to create awareness, because not everyone has knowledge of the global threats of antimicrobial resistance. However, we see that the discussion has been started.
“In nearly all countries around the world, antimicrobial resistance is one of the top priorities of issues to solve”, the Wageningen University professor said.
As a second step, the importance of showing alternatives was addressed. According to Den Hartog, the solution can be found in an integrated approach, by feed, farm and health management. The use of antibiotics can be reduced by optimizing farm management, enhancing animal health and providing good nutrition.
Good nutrition, he explained, means starting from the beginning of the production cycle with good quality ingredients but also with natural feed additives. When developing the concept of the integrated approach it was especially stressed the fact that a change in mind-set is needed, meaning that collaboration with experts and education of producers are key.
Finally, the Dutch research director concluded that the last step is to implement the changes. It is important to show to animal producers that implementing this integrated approach delivers same or even better results.
Conclusions from several field trials were presented to support these statements.
In a room full of poultry and swine producers Prof den Hartog was asked to put himself in the shoes of a poultry producer. “If I was a poultry producer I would have a critical look at my diets and improve my farm management. I would stop immediately the use of antimicrobial growth promoters and only use antibiotics with therapeutic purposes, just when animals are really sick”.

About alternatives and strategies
Trouw Nutrition Selko was the event organizer.  Leo den Hartog was one of the three speakers that gathered in the seminar titled “Reduction of antibiotic use through an integrated gut health program”. Selko solutions provide a number of strategies to face the challenge and help its customers to maintain performance while reducing antibiotics. Farm, feed and health management are combined to offer an integrated approach that help face challenges in the long term.