March 11, 2019
Merck Animal Health introduces Aqua Care365®
Merck Animal has announced its Aqua Care365® initiative to support fish farmers in their efforts to provide the best quality care for their operations.
The programme includes a series of employee training modules featuring industry experts, interactive quizzes, standard operating procedures (SOPs) and certificates of completion to document training.
"Merck Animal Health is committed to providing the aquaculture industry with best care practices to advance the health and well-being of fish, which contributes to the ongoing success of our customers' operations," said Tim Kniffen (DVM, MS), technical services manager of Merck Animal Health. "Covering topics important to fish farming provides valuable information to help reduce stress and prevent diseases, which are essential for a healthy food supply."
The first educational training module focuses on normal and abnormal salmon behavior and is taught by Jimmy Turnbull (BVM&S, MSc, PhD, ILTM, MRCVS), professor at the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling. Turnbull encourages farmers to spend as much time as possible watching fish behavior, both on the surface and underwater, to gain an understanding of their behavior, as it changes day to day, pen to pen and in association with a variety of factors.
"It may take observing fish for an entire production cycle before employees become familiar with the basics," Turnbull said. "Fish typically move in a circular pattern in the pen, but their movement depends on their size, feeding time, light level and the water current. Being observant on the farm is important. Employees need to be trained so they know when to report abnormal behavior, as it may require immediate intervention for the health of the fish."
Standard operation procedures are included in Aqua Care365 to elevate care protocols.
"I encourage farm managers to work alongside their veterinarian when drafting SOPs, as they know how a farm operates and what has been successful on other farms," Kniffen said. "Well-written SOPs help train new employees and provide a backup when employees are needed to step in to do another's tasks."
Merck Animal Health recognises progressive fish farmers depend on information from experts to minimise disease threats. Future training modules will be developed on the topics of sea pen handling and farm fish examination.