Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Colostrum campaign aims to slash antibiotic use

February 1, 2018 by  
Filed under Livestock

Livestock farmers are teaming up during February to promote the ‘liquid gold’ properties of colostrum in reducing the need for antibiotics in farm animals and improving their lifetime performance.

The #ColostrumIsGold campaign will highlight the responsible use of antibiotics – starting with newborn calves, lambs and piglets receiving the right amount of colostrum within a couple of hours of birth – something all farmers have the potential to achieve.

A wide range of organisations will be releasing information and promoting best practice throughout the month, mainly based around getting the 3Qs – ‘quality, quantity and quickness’ – of colostrum delivery right.

Created by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance, the FarmAntibiotics.org information website will be signposting to these resources, as well as highlighting hints and tips for more effective colostrum management.

RUMA chairman and farmer Gwyn Jones acknowledged the pressures faced by livestock producers at lambing and calving – and said he realised how easy it could be to take shortcuts with the all-important first feed.

Wake-up call

“But it was a wake-up call when I found out calves watermelon viagra receiving insufficient colostrum at birth are more than twice as likely to develop respiratory disease, and can have mortality rates as high as 13%,” he said.

“Too often we see the animal start to suck or we give it a feed, and don’t think about the actual quantity of colostrum it consumes immediately after birth.

“All these factors have an enormous impact on the levels of antibodies in the bloodstream 24 hours later, and on the subsequent health of the animal and its need for antibiotic treatment during its whole life.”

Better colostrum management is an incredible opportunity – not to ensure better health for the future, but cut antibiotic use and produce a more valuable animal for onward rearing, said Mr Jones.

AHDB research manager Jenny Gibbons said the levy board’s recent Calf to Calving campaign focusing on youngstock rearing had seen nearly 40% of attendees go on to buy equipment to test the quality of colostrum.

“With recent figures from the Royal Veterinary College indicating just 31% of dairy farmers have been testing the quality of the colostrum before feeding it, this uptake is good news,” says Dr Gibbons.

Huge difference

“Another area to tackle is time of feeding. Only 5% are feeding within the ideal two hours after birth. Changing these practices would make a huge difference to calves for onward beef rearing as well as replacement heifers.”

Specialist sheep vet Fiona Lovatt said lambs receiving insufficient colostrum at birth is behind one of the sheep industry’s biggest antibiotic  hotspots, in what is otherwise a low-use sector.

“It is largely avoidable,” said Dr Lovatt. “The reality is that we simply don’t see watery mouth in lambs that have taken sufficient colostrum on board in that golden 24-hour window immediately after birth.”

A 5kg lamb at birth needs 1 litre of colostrum in its first 24 hours of life to give it essential levels of natural immunity, but importantly, the first feed should be within two hours of birth.

“Antibodies – essential in protecting against all disease including E coli infections – cannot cross through the placenta, so must be transferred through colostrum,” said Dr Lovatt.

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