Resistant bacteria are an increasing problem in veterinary medicine, according to Dr Hans Spoolder, senior animal welfare scientist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and coordinator of the 4-year ‘Healthy Livestock’ research project.
Dr Spoolder and his colleagues are employing 4 early intervention and preventative strategies to reduce the need to use antimicrobials in poultry and pigs. The project is focusing on Europe (the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, France, Poland, the UK, Cyprus and Germany) and China – 2 regions where active research into antimicrobial resistance is already underway.
The first strategy is to use preventative measures to stop pathogens from entering farms in the first place. One approach is to develop an app that can be used to assess risk factors for the deadly African Swine Fever virus on pig farms in China.
Healthy Livestock is also researching ways to prevent diseases from spreading by early detection of health problems in poultry flocks using a camera system. By comparing behavioural patterns in diseased and healthy chickens, they are trying to identify those that may be unwell based on their movements.
“We are still developing the technology but it’s very promising. There is still a lot to gain with respect to disease detection. Greater use of targeting will also reduce the amount of microbials used and could therefore lower the risk of developing resistance. If you know which animals are ill, then you (should) medicate them and not all the animals, including the healthy ones in your group,” said Spoolder.
The Healthy Livestock project is organising an industry day for practitioners and scientists to meet and discuss interventions to fight antimicrobial resistance in livestock farming on 23 June in Bologna, Italy.