March 17, 2017


Trouw Nutrition: Change of mindset in order to reduce antibiotic use




Trouw Nutrition Asia Pacific gathered experts and animal producers to address one of the main challenges in the industry today: how to reduce antibiotic use while keeping performance and profitability.

The concern about antimicrobial resistance is already global. Legislation on antibiotic reduction is moving forward from Europe to the rest of the world at an increasing pace. The development of strategies to reduce- and eventually phase out- antibiotics in animal production is starting to show its first promising results for the industry. To keep up with the trends in the market, feed and animal producers need to understand the scope of the issue as well as learning what is available to help them reduce antibiotics while keeping up performance.

During a series of seminars in Asia Pacific under the title "The Future Integrated Solution for Profitable AGP-free Production", Trouw Nutrition addressed the main challenges producers are facing regarding antibiotic reduction. The events took place in Philipines, Indonesia and Thailand, where about 230 feed and animal producers of the region gathered together with key leaders on the subject.

In his opening notes, Samson Li, managing director of the business unit ofNutreco Asia, said: "There is no single silver bullets that could help us fight antimicrobial resistance. In Trouw Nutrition, we want to share our experiences. For example in the Netherlands, we managed to reduce 58% of antibiotic usage in animal husbandry. We need to work closer together to overcome this issue."

Reducing antibiotic use

Keynote speakers from the FAO highlighted the importance of taking an active role in antibiotic reduction. If nothing is done, it is estimated that 10 million people will die across the world by 2050 and the cumulative lost outputs will be worth up to US$100 trillion globally.

Jon Ratcliff, consultant for the main UK supermarket chains on food and agriculture matters, explained the difference between therapeutic, prophylactic and growth promoter antibiotics (AGP). He highlighted that the growth promoter antibiotics improve feed utilisation and reduce mortality, but were banned in Europe around more than a decade ago, as part of the first step towards antibiotic reduction.  That trend is now being progressively observed globally, so there is an opportunity for the rest of the world to look at the European experience and introduce the necessary changes in the smartest and economically viable way possible. Besides legislation, food consumers are already putting a lot of pressure in the industry by demanding meat without antibiotics. "Such a demand actually led to the launch of a new global certification standard for animal products: Raised Without Antibiotics," Ratcliff explained.

The challenge for animal producers lies on maintaining performance after withdrawing AGPs. Ratcliff pointed out the importance of the quality of the environment the animal is in once AGPs are discontinued and showed the direct relationship between improvement of animal performance and good environmental conditions. "The European experience shows that there is life after AGPs but requires an integrated approach" the expert said.


Strategies to maintain profitability in AGP- free environments

Linked to the integrated approach concept, Maarten van der Heijden, global feed additives programme manager for Trouw Nutrition, presented his experience on European cases.

He stated that "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".

Van der Heijden showcased some impressive results on field experiences where this approach was taken.  By analysing data and executing audits to examine the critical points of animal production without antibiotics, they could select the right strategy. Combining Selko feed additives with feed, farm and health management advice, proved that it is possible to reduce antibiotics while keeping or even improving performance.

The main outcome is an increase in profitability, as animals perform better. Also, the end product gets an added value in the market. "The key elements to reach antibiotic reduction while maximising profit are a change in the mindset of the industry, collaboration with experts and education of the producers," the Dutch expert concluded.

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