Pigs to follow poultry in successful antibiotic reduction initiative

An antibiotic reduction approach which is claimed to have worked successfully with poultry is to be adopted for pig production with the launch of a new initiative set to take place at next month’s Pig & Poultry Fair.

Developed by St David’s veterinary team, one of the UK’s largest poultry practices, the initiative is based on improving the animals’ natural health through a combination of probiotics, organic acids and water sanitation.

“We have spent many years pulling together the latest research and industry best practice from around the world,” said St David’s partner, Richard Turner (pictured above). “Working with the large integrators we have put this into place on a number of poultry farms, with considerable success, and are now rolling it out to the pig sector.

“As a practice we started looking at antibiotic reduction 10 years ago, and now more than 40% of medicines we use to treat infections are not antibiotics. There will always be situations where we have to treat with antibiotics, but in this country there hasn’t been enough time spent looking at alternative approaches.”

Using their Applied Bacterial Control (ABC) programme, the St David’s team, whose headquarters are near Exeter, look closely at all husbandry factors, developing a bespoke strategy to boost natural gut health and reduce the need for routine antibiotic treatments.

“Central to ABC is clean water and the seed, weed and feed approach developed by Professor Stephen Collett from the University of Georgia, USA,” said Mr Turner. “This involves seeding the gut with beneficial flora, feeding them by creating the right gut environment and weeding out unfavourable microbes.

“Bacteria pass down from one generation to the next, so the best results involve treating parent stock as well as youngsters on arrival at the farm.

“In the poultry sector, adopting such a proactive approach to bird health has helped our clients to significantly improve production efficiencies, and we are now looking forward to helping pig producers do the same.”

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