The Netherlands is leading Europe in the reduction of antibiotic use on farms. That’s according to new figures from the EU, which show a 60% drop in antibiotic use since 2009 in the country.
Currently, average use across Europe is 1.5 times that of The Netherlands, which since 2011 has banned medicinal feed. Spain has the highest use across Europe, with 4.5 times the volume of antibiotics used per pig than in the Netherlands.
Some farmers are using alternative products such as HyCare from MS Schippers, which focusses on the cleaning and disinfection of buildings and drinker systems in order to prevent infection taking hold and antibiotics being needed.
“One of the most important principles behind HyCare is a change in our way of thinking: healthcare needs to focus on preventively managing animal health instead of curing them after the infections have already appeared,” said Mart Smolders, MS Schippers division manager for pigs.
“Completely banning antibiotics is not currently in sight, but we feed our own children in a clean environment with clean drinking water and if we apply this sort of basic hygiene to our animals, then you will start seeing drastic differences.”
The system does require a change to the standard work method—for instance, you have to clean more intensively after each round. Currently, the company is giving interested farmers tours in their stalls.