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Discussing antibiotic use in lambing at the Agri-Innovation Summit 2019

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Our Agriculture and Food consultant Emma Jones presented at the Agri-Innovation summit 2019 in Lisieux, France last month on behalf of the Welsh Government.

Emma Jones at AgriInnovationThe event, to discuss sustainable farming and forestry projects run by the European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI), brought together over 400 participants including farmers, researchers, advisors, and businesses from all across Europe.

As an Innovation Broker, Emma’s role is to facilitate farmer-led, EIP-AGRI funded projects, so they can trial innovative approaches within their farm businesses. The knowledge gained can then be shared across the wider industry.

At the summit, Emma presented her latest project - working alongside Welsh farmers for the last two years to reduce antibiotic use on sheep farms at lambing time.

Antibiotic use at lambing time

Decreasing the use of antibiotics is a key challenge in animal and human health. For antibiotics to remain effective, their use needs to be carefully and responsibly managed.

The aim of the project was to:

  • Promote responsible use of antibiotics so their effectiveness stays high and costs go down for the farmer
  • Increase farmer confidence in ration formulation and management practices, reducing preventive use of antibiotics at lambing time whilst maintaining and improving health and welfare.
  • Improve nutrition and management practices in order to improve vigour, reduce mortality and reduce investment in finishing.
  • Empower the next generation of farmers to adopt alternatives to the use of antibiotics, helping them become more resilient.
Discussing antibiotic use in lambing at the Agri-Innovation Summit 2019

How was this done?

  • Analysis of the silage fed to breeding ewes and matching of suitable supplementary feed, provided by independent nutritionists.
  • An independent sheep veterinary surgeon visited the farms several times during the project in order to provide an action plan for lambing time and to advise on health issues with individual flocks.
  • Metabolic profiling of pregnant ewes and colostrum absorption testing of lambs was carried out by local vets.
  • Samples of the bedding in sheep pens, both pre-lambing and post-lambing, were taken as well as faecal sampling of ewes and lambs to analyse the bacteria present.
  • Post-mortems were also carried out where lamb deaths occurred in order to diagnose any problems.

Result

The analyses carried out throughout the project enabled the farmers to make better informed choices regarding their flocks and their feed which lead to improved colostrum quality and quantity. There was an increase in even growth rate among triplet lambs and reduced incidents of joint ill and scours.

Following best practise farm management in regards to hygiene and nutrition did lead to antibiotic use going down for the farmers involved and they will continue to monitor their antibiotic use into the future.

More information

For more information regarding this project or to discuss European Innovation Partnership projects, please contact Emma Jones – emma.jones@adas.co.uk

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