1) Under the current UK regulatory system for farm antibiotic use what steps does;
i) a veterinary surgeon have to take when prescribing an antimicrobial for an animal;
• Properly diagnose the disease.
• Antimicrobials should not be prescribed as the first line of treatment. When possible, symptomatic treatment should be applied.
• However when necessary, it is to be used use as little as possible, or as much as is necessary.
• Ensure that the antibiotics prescribed are legal to be used in that particular animal. When drugs are to be used off-label, observe the cascade procedure.
• To construct a flock or herd health plan to minimise reoccurrence of the disease (1).
ii) a farmer have to take when treating an animal?
• Farmers need to keep a comprehensive list of drugs administered. A guildeline of what is to be included in this report can be found on The Veterinary Medicine Regulations 2013 website. Records must be durable, permanent and available for inspection and audit.
• Observe withdrawal periods.
• Use only as prescribed and instructed. Administer properly.
• Store the drugs in safe places and as instructed on labels.
• Buy drugs from authorised sources and dispose of them responsibly (1-2).
2) The report states “It should be recognized that a move towards higher welfare and less intensive production systems has the potential to reduce the use of antibiotics in agriculture significantly”.
What evidence can you find that less intensive production systems equate to higher welfare systems? (Give evidence as a maximum of 3 bullet points including a reference for each of your statements).
• In one study, cows were placed in a strawyards and cubicles and observed for behavioural differences. The cows in strawyards were given thicker straw and allowed more flexibility of lying arrangements due to the structure of the pen, thus allowing more social interaction between each other. Welfare of the cows were measured based on total lying time and lying synchrony as indication of comfort (Miller and Wood-Gush, 1991; and Krohn et al., 1992). Results showed that cows in the strawyards had higher total lying time and lying synchrony than those in cubicles, suggesting they were more comfortable. This study is an indication that soft and comfortable bedding, coupled with higher social interraction, which are consistent factors in free range farming, lead to better welfare (3).
• A larger herd size increases the risk of lameness in cattle. When cows move in a larger herd size, crowding tends to happen and cows have lesser choice of foot placement. They will then start walking into softer ground that is a mix of soil and gravel, forcing the gravel stones to be lodged in their foot. Different causes of lameness may lead to laminitis (4).
• Free range chicken have found to have much less feather pecking damage as compared to chicken farmed in an intensive system. The freedom to explore their environment and forage served an enrichment. Chickens were also free to roam and distribute themselves over a larger space, thus reducing stocking density and stress. Lowered stress would mean better welfare and better immunity to combat diseases (5).
3) The report states “The preventative use of antibiotics in healthy animals should be phased out, and the overall use of antibiotics on farms should be halved within five years.”
If this were to become an EU policy, list four points you would need to consider in the implementation of this policy.
• Prophylactic use of antibiotics is most common in poultry farming. Due to the nature of poultry diseases and farming, antibiotics are used to protect the flock against diseases to prevent an outbreak. In implementing this policy, I will have to revise and improve on all herd and flock health plans to prevent diseases. I will look into spending more on vaccinations and immune boosting supplements.
• Farmers may have to increase on labour, so that they can monitor the animals closely, and isolate any sick animals as quickly as possible.
• This policy may mean veterinarians will choose not to prescribe antibiotics when clinical signs are not yet severe. This may be harmful in the long run, for the sick animal and its flock or herd mates, as the animal's welfare is compromised or spread by the time clinical signs are severe. This policy will change veterinary medicine approach from preventative to reactive. Disease outbreaks will occur more frequently and harder to manage.
• Animal produce will contain a larger amount of bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella. Many animals harbour different types of bacteria without showing signs as they are either natural flora or asymptomatic infections. If the meat is not cooked properly, or milk not pasteurized as thoroughly, more people will fall sick from food-borne diseases.
4) The report states “The use of modern cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones
should be greatly reduced and their off-label use prohibited”.
i) List three reasons why cephalosporins and fluoroquinlones are widely used in veterinary practice (give evidence for your reason).
• Easy to use. Both drugs can be administered parentally, making it a practical and safe drug for farmers. They can be used on a large range of animals including small mammals, ruminants, pigs and horses (6-9).
• Both drugs are effective against a large range of bacteria (broad spectrum), making it effective against many types of diseases (6-9).
• They have a large volume of distribution due to its physicochemical properties, enabling it to treat multiple infections at different parts of the body (6-9).
ii) Propose one way you would suggest that might limit the use of these products.
• Reduce the risk of disease by improving herd and flock health program, incorporating vaccination and disease control programs and provide better nutrition. Veterinarians also need to work closely with farmers to improve husbandry practices
5) The report states “…Advertisements to veterinary surgeons should be purely factual and not emotive in any way.”
Find one example of an advertisement for an antimicrobial product to veterinary surgeons or farmers that you think is emotive and one that is not, giving your interpretation of each advertisement.
Source, both: Zoetis United States, 2013-2016. Advocin sterile antimicrobial injectable solution (danofloxacin injection). [online] Available at: <https://www.zoetisus.com/products/beef/advocin-sterile-antimicrobial-injectable-solution.aspx> [Accessed 3 March 2016]
Zoetis uses emotive advertising to imply that buying this product could earn the farmer extra money for his family. They also display a picture of a man who is supposedly a satisfied customer of this product, to market themselves as trustworthy and dependable. The advertisement on the right does not contribute any information regarding the drug.
Source, both: Virbac United Kingdom, 2013-2016. Rilexine for cats and dogs. [online] Available at: <http://www.virbac.co.uk/home/products/antibiotics/main/antibiotics/
virbac-product.html> [Accessed 3 March 2016]
Virbac has advertises its Cephalexin simply by displaying a picture of how the product and its packaging look like. Packaging is simple with direct and clear information about the drugs. No marketing tagline or emotive words are used.
6) Many dairy farmers feed waste milk to their calves. (Waste milk is milk from cows that are being treated with antimicrobial products). It is suggested this is a risk factor for increasing spread of antimicrobial resistance. Can you suggest how you might enforce a ban on this practice?
• A study has shown that bacteria in milk can degrade an antimicrobial in milk if allowed to fermentate (12). As the natural environment and climatic conditions in the UK do not facilitate natural fermentation in farm conditions, starter cultures can be used to quicken fermentation. Though traces of antibiotics have been found to be secreted in milk for the first 6 milkings post treatment, only the first 2 milkings would require a longer time to fermentate as it contains the highest concentration of antibiotics. However, fermented milk is less palatable to calves and farmers may experience milk rejection for the first few weeks.
• In a large herd that receives a higher volume of waste milk, it may be useful to purchase a separate pasteurization machine dedicated for treatment of waste milk. It has also been reported that calves fed with pasteurized milk has been shown to have better weight gain, have less diarrhoea and pneumonia, and performed better after weaning compared to calves fed non-pasteurized milk (13).
• Alternatively, if authorities were to completely ban the use of waste milk, it would be wise to pay a compensation cost for every litre of waste milk that is disposed. This is an estimated of 22-62kg of milk per cow per year (14). Additionally, use of milk replacers should be encouraged or even incentivised. Waste milk should be disposed of with other biohazard farm waste instead of normal drainage, as it contains extremely high levels of bacteria and drug residue.
7) This report was produced by the Soil Association – why might they write such a report?
The Soil Association is a UK-based charity organization that promotes “healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use.” They are currently leading several campaigns, including the one to use fewer antibiotics in feed animals. They feel that farms in the UK are currently using an excessive and in irresponsible ways, which will ultimately lead to antibiotics resistance in human bacterial infections, leaving these diseases impossible to treat. This report was written to show the many studies that support this movement by demonstrating the prevalence of a very resistant strain of E. coli found in feed animals, and is to be presented at a conference. The report contains a list of recommendations that they wish to propose to authorities, veterinarians and farmers.
The Soil Association promotes organic farming, in which feed animals are farmed extensively or free-range, are not mutilated and receive little to no antimicrobial drugs during its lifetime. These farms are typically of lower yield but are said to provide animals with a higher degree of welfare during its life. In return, organic farm companies make up Soil Association's biggest financial contributors.
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