Farm Management Using A Holistic Approach to Pig Production Without Antibiotics [Summary]

Experts, including veterinary pharmacologists and animal health practitioners, are looking for practical solutions to convert the theory of reducing antibiotics into a future reality for animal production. This will only be achieved with an adaptation of the strategies currently used on farms and in farming systems, including making new considerations around biosecurity, health management, housing, feeding, and genetics.

Reducing or removing antibiotics from animal production leaves a performance gap. Education and knowledge sharing are key to overcoming this gap. Here are some further ideas to consider when reducing antibiotics while maintaining performance levels:

  • Efforts should focus on improving the health status of animals as they get closer to the consumer (i.e. in the final three months of their life) rather than focusing on the grandparent or boar stock.
  • Treating diseases early will reduce the quantity of antibiotic needed for the treatment. In addition, productivity losses due to illness will be minimized.
  • Data should be gathered on a daily basis, including data on as many health parameters as possible. Precise and ongoing health management is the only way to reduce antibiotic use on farms without suffering any negative economic effects.
  • Consider batch farrowing. Efforts can be focused onto one particular day resulting in one group per week.
  • Empower staff by training them adequately, giving them responsibility, and paying them fairly. The use of cheap, unskilled labor will reduce overheads but at the expense of potential production gains.
  • Each farm is different and should be treated as such. There are a high number of variables in pig production so comparing one farm to another is of no benefit. However, sharing examples and experiences between farms, countries and even continents can be hugely beneficial.
  • The supply of nutrients and water to animals is of the utmost importance. Great care should be taken to ensure the animal’s needs are being met throughout the production cycle. Environmental factors should also be considered including temperature and ventilation.
  • Manage disease in every way possible. Quarantine new animals arriving to the site. Consider the use of air filtration to keep disease out of the barn.

Further details and examples on each of these points are provided in the full article and presentation.