January 26, 2017


Trouw Nutrition: Integrated approach to reduce antibiotics in animal production




Dr. Leo den Hartog, director of R&D at Trouw, Nutrition since 2001, presented about the usage of antibiotics in animal production in a seminar organised by Trouw Nutrition and Selko.


During the session titled "Reduction of antibiotic use through an integrated gut health program", Dr. den Hartog has a long, celebrated career as a researcher and lecturer of animal nutrition. His perspective on how to approach the global concern on antimicrobial resistance is a valuable insight in such an extended and complex matter. The part-time Wageningen University professor explained that too many antibiotics are used in animal production, becoming a global issue in the agenda of nearly all countries around the globe.  In his opinion, the challenge can only be faced with an integrated approach.

"A drastic reduction of antibiotics in food production can be achieved if we move to a new farming model based on integrated and multi-stakeholder collaboration" Dr. den Hartog explained.


Three main steps to reduce antibiotics

During his lecture, Dr. den Hartog explained that the first step towards antibiotic reduction is to create awareness as not everyone has the knowledge of the global threats of antimicrobial resistance. "In nearly all countries around the world, antimicrobial resistance is one of the top priorities of issues to solve" the Wageningen University professor said.

As a second step, the importance of showing alternatives was addressed. According to Dr. den Hartog, the solution can be found in an integrated approach; by feed, farm and health management. The use of antibiotics can be reduced by optimising farm management, enhancing animal health and providing good nutrition. Good nutrition, he explained, means starting from the beginning of the production cycle with good quality ingredients as well as with natural feed additives. When developing the concept of the integrated approach, it was especially stressed the fact that a change in mindset is needed, means that collaboration with experts and education of producers is the key.


Towards the end of the presentation, the Dutch research director concluded that the final step is to implement the changes. It is important to show to animal producers that implementing this integrated approach delivers same or better results, Dr. den Hartog states. Conclusions from several field trials were presented to support these statements.


During the session, Dr. den Hartog was asked to imagine himself in the shoes of a poultry producer. "If I'm a poultry producer, I will have a critical look at my diets and improve my farm management. I will stop immediately the use of antimicrobial growth promoters and only use antibiotics with therapeutic purposes, only when animals are really sick".
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