The IfA team are at dairy-Tech 2019, talk to them about 4D4F, NEFERTITI and their projects on antibiotic resistance to see how using the latest technology and improved animal welfare can reduce the use of antibiotics on farm and increase farm profitability.
UK farmers should be congratulated on achieving a 40% reduction in antibiotic use in 5 years (to 2017) with even bigger falls in critically important antibiotics. In many cases this has happened by improving management practices which has also resulted in increased profitability. However, this is just the beginning and we need to keep on improving.
Innovation for Agriculture has produced the first 20 in a series of best practice videos looking at farmer’s tips on how they have achieved this – covering pigs, dairy, sheep, beef and calf rearing and this can be accessed at https://www.innovationforagriculture.org.uk/livestock/#improving . This is a free resource funded by the Cadogan Charity.
Innovation for Agriculture will also participate in a European initiative DISARM (Disseminating Innovative Solutions for Antibiotic Resistance Management). This will serve to bring together industry stakeholders, (farmers, veterinarians, industry professionals, advisors, and processors), in a Community of Practice (CoP); to help identify and disseminate best practice antibiotic use. IfA would like to encourage anyone wishing to partake in the CoP, or find out more to please get in touch. email@example.com
As project leader for 4D4F (Data Decisions for Dairy Farmers) we would like to hear from dairy farmers about what really matters to you.
There are 5 quick questions about the use of sensor technologies to improve productivity and sustainability on dairy farms:
For the 4D4F farming network, the sharing of tech know-how has already resulted in improved welfare and profitability, with potential to increase feed efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The EU-supported 4D4F network was established to help dairy farmers base management decisions on data, such as that gathered by sensing equipment, leading to best practices for more sustainable dairy farming.
4D4F has evolved around a European-wide Community of Practice (CoP) to share knowledge, both physically and virtually. As project coordinator, Mr Richard Lloyd explains, “It was important to focus on subjects determined in a bottom-up way. So the community voted on what was important for them. Out of this we arrived at 12 special interest groups.”
For each group 4D4F developed a Best Practice Guide, an infographic and a best practice video, all made available in the languages of the project partners.
These groups, along with an additional virtual resource known as the Warehouse of Technology, (comprising an overview of, and comparisons between, all of the current technology), were crucial to not only help farmers make the best investment decisions for their particular farms, but also unlock the potential of the technology already owned.
4D4F (Data Decisions for Dairy Farmers) is hosting an informative webinar on the latest dairy innovations, aimed to change the way we farm.
From improving animal welfare to reducing the use of antibiotics, listen to experts from across Europe on how technologies are shaping the future of dairy farming and the food industry.
The webinar is a unique industry event, where you will have the chance to access a wealth of information and expertise for free, and you will be given plenty of time to send your questions and get answers in real time.
Dairy technology – starting the welfare revolution
Time: 13.00–14.00 Wednesday November 21st, 2018
Venue: Media event – webcast
The benefits associated with using sensor technology in dairy farming are far reaching:
- Improved animal welfare;
- Enhanced animal performance and farm profitability;
- Improved product quality;
- Minimised adverse environmental impacts;
- Reduced use of antibiotics through preventive health measures.
Join the 4D4F webinar to see:
- How to make better, more consistent decisions on farm;
- A warehouse that helps farmers make the best investment decision;
- Two technologies combined to revolutionise lameness management;
- Who has won the 2018 4D4F innovation prize.
How to access the webinar and further information
In the first crucial months of a calf’s life, the calf is susceptible to infectious diseases. During this period, the calf’s health can be affected by many factors. One of these factors is its housing. Traditionally, calves are kept individually in outdoor igloo’s. In the Hooibeekhoeve, a research and demonstration farm in Antwerp, Belgium, young calves are individually housed indoors. The air for the ventilation in this calf house is separated from the barn with the adult cows. From the outside of the barn, three inlets draw fresh air from via underground channels through the floor of the calf house. The air then passes through the house and is subsequently extracted at the ceiling and sent to the barn with the adult cows. The separate ventilation for cows serves to prevent infections from the adult cows in the bigger barn to spread to the younger calves. Another benefit of this ventilation system is the ability to keep the room temperature and the humidity of the air constant, in contrast to outdoor igloo’s. It creates a comfortable surrounding for the calves that protects the calves against the cold weather and keeps them warm at all times. This video is a collaboration between M3-BIORES and 4D4F.
Join IfA at the Driffield Show on Wednesday 18th July to understand how using the latest technology can reduce the use of antibiotics on farms, improve animal welfare and increase farm profitability.
4D4F is looking for the most innovative idea on how to use sensors/data to improve dairy cow or goat performance management.
In order to participate, please send us a 1-2 page article (Word document including pictures) and email it to info@4D4F.eu. Alternatively, you can also post a short video in twitter containing the @4d4fproject tag and the #4D4F hashtag. To be eligible, the innovation must have been used on a commercial farm, and not earlier than 1st March 2016. Closing date for entries is 23rd September 2018.
All entries will be promoted on the website, and the winner will be showcased to international media on 21st November 2018.
Like all young parents in rugged occupations like farming, Alistair James Hicks works hard, often in less than perfect working conditions. One day, surrounded by nothing more threatening than dirty water, he cuts his hand. Less than a week later, Mr Hicks is dead.
This short and very sad true story is told with deep emotion by a grandson he never met, Aled Rhys Davies, as often as he can get in front of an audience of livestock farmers. It is not exaggerating, he points out, that one day soon, anyone reading this could themselves die, or lose a family member, due to a drug-resistant infection.
“Everyone, please realise this is personal,” he told an audience of dairy farmers, vets and supply trade at a recent ‘Reducing Antiobiotic Use’ conference. It was staged by Innovation for Agriculture – the non-profit body dedicated to ‘helping farmers make best use of emerging and exisiting knowledge to improve business performance and personal fulfilment’ – and the Royal Bath & West Society.
Back in 1950, within months of Mr Hicks’ untimely death, penicillin became available to doctors and could have saved him. Grandson Aled continues: “A return to this pre-antibiotic era really scares me, possibly more than others, because the consequences remain within my family’s living memory.”
Prompted by this, he applied for and won a 2015 Nuffield Scholarship to study alternatives to antibiotics for farmers. Today in livestock farming, his one overriding conclusion is that keeping drug-resistant infections at bay is, without exception, everyone’s personal responsibility. More details about where his study has led can be found on his website, pruex.co.uk.
Meanwhile, Peter Borriello from Veterinary Medicines Directorate told delegates how two of the most serious concerns were bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotic types and that resistance can transfer between different bacteria species.
He also cautioned against hoping for new molecules. “Even if a new antibiotic is found that turns out to be unusable in humans, it would take up to 20 years for it to be licensed for animal use,” he said. “The only answers are better husbandry, reduced sickness, evidence-based and effective treatment when required, and continuous improvement in all these areas and more.”
As evidence supporting this approach, Tom Clarke from Synergy Farm Vets said very high yielding dairy herds tended to have lower than average antibiotic use. “This is probably because good health is essential to very high yields,” he explained.
Rather than reaching for an antibiotic at the first suspicion of ill health, his practice is helping clients identify when and how to run diagnostic bacterial cultures, then make treatment decisions based on the results.
“Among the options, ‘no-treatment’ is an appropriate decision when a culture suggests self-cure is probable,” he added. “A good example is smelly vaginal discharge post-calving. Start by taking the cow’s temperature and looking carefully at daily milk yields before deciding whether to give an antibiotic. Some cows will be OK dealing with it themselves, without antibiotic. For mastitis, a number of dairy farm clients now have an incubator to culture milk samples and identify if and what bacteria are present. Using this diagnostic-led approach, some dairy clients have reduced mastitis antibiotic use by 50 percent.”
In collaboration with XLVets and RAFT, his practice is also developing DataVet, a large scale data library connected with smartphone apps to help farmers and vets reduce antibiotic use without compromising animal health or productivity.
Right now, today or tomorrow, one thing farmers could ask their vets is how to ensure justified use of antibiotics, according to Phil Elkins from Westpoint Farm Vets. “The only good reason for farmers to give antibiotics to animals is that they think treatment is needed and the animal will recover,” he said. “We are treating to get a specific, desired clinical response, and this depends on making the right choice of antibiotic with high probability of killing the target pathogen.
“Faced with a sick animal, we need effective treatments to still be available. But unless we all, vets and farmers alike, take steps to minimise the conditions that encourage drug-resistant bacteria, some treatment choices will be taken away. A good example is that antibiotic footbaths are 100 percent unnecessary.”
Westpoint’s sister business Kingshay has recently developed its Health Manager service to include an Antimicrobial Report, which monitors a farm’s ongoing antibiotic use, comparing current and previous years alongside an anonymous peer group benchmark.
Although major changes take time to make sense of, Dr Kristen Reyher from Bristol University reassured farmers at the conference that the time would come when minimal treatment based on diagnostics has become second nature. “Just like wearing a car seat belt or not smoking in public places, new social norms will become established,” she said. “However, in this particular example we really don’t have long.”
Closing the event, Aled Rhys Davies said: “This battle is personal, potentially deadly, and involves every one of us. My hope is that the Alistair James Hicks story helps speed us up and get everyone involved.”
More about IfA including details of more reducing antibiotic use events can be found at www.i4agri.org
Innovation for Agriculture’s Antibiotic Reduction Project is funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.
IfA will be exhibiting at 2018 Dairy Tech at Stoneleigh Park, on-hand to talk to dairy farmers about 4D4F. The event will showcase the latest innovative technologies in the dairy industry, and 4D4F has a wealth of free resources available to dairy farmers, including unbiased explanations of the many types of sensor technologies on the market, best practice guides and tips on how to make the most from your technologies, case study articles and videos ‘straight from the farmers mouth’ on their personal experiences using particular technologies. Visit the 4D4F stand at Dairy Tech on 7th February 2018