Farmers encouraged to look beyond antibiotics

MSD Animal Health is today asking farmers to look beyond antibiotics at a fringe event during the Oxford Farming Conference.

The event, called ‘Embracing Change? It’s Time to Vaccinate!’ is building on the momentum of the white paper Time to Vaccinate – Looking Beyond Antibiotics which focuses on how the animal health industry can work together to overcome antimicrobial resistance. Now MSD Animal Health is taking the message to farmers at the Oxford Faming Conference and encouraging them to embrace change.

Dr Paul Williams, technical manager at MSD Animal Health, said: “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 mindset. It also can’t be achieved in isolation, we need to work together. Defra has highlighted tackling antibiotic resistance as one of their priorities and we welcome this support, but farmers, vets and the wider industry also need to be involved.

“Vaccination has an important part to play in disease prevention and thereby reducing the need for antibiotics – and we’ve released our white paper Time to Vaccinate – Looking Beyond Antibiotics to provide concrete examples on the current situation in the livestock sectors. The paper shows 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.”

MSD Animal Health’s research into farmer attitudes about vaccination showed 67 per cent of UK farmers would not vaccinate against a disease unless they’ve had an outbreak.

“We’re not surprised by this,” said 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 MSD Animal Health is highlighting.

Dr Williams added: “Biosecurity, good hygiene practice and pro-active farm management and husbandry are also all part of the solution.

“By focusing on improving animal health we can reduce the need for antibiotics, and animal welfare standards will also improve. It’s a win-win situation.”


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