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Shared Learning 2020: Animal Health, Agriculture and Food Supply

Projects that demonstrated innovative approaches to tackling antimicrobial resistance

2020 entries

Barefoot Lightning Ltd

Provide a brief overview of your project?
We have developed a syndromic disease identification tool for pig farmers in developing countries that uses animations to support farmers to identify diseases and then shares syndromes with vets for formal diagnoses allowing remote farmers to access quality veterinary services and reduce their reliance on point of sale diagnoses and medicine supplies which are frequently misdirected.
Please cite 3 examples of outcomes or impacts from the project on tackling AMR.
Farmers have adopted the service leading to a reduction in self-medications. The main pork producer in Kenya is promoting it’s use with their farmers. The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi has been able to access large volumes of syndrome and medications data for their AMR research. Over 284 pig symptoms have been developed into animation content with descriptive scripts and structured into a simple to understand and navigate tool.
How is the project to be developed in the future?
The project will continue to be grown across Africa and Asia for large-scale farmers in it’s current format with language translations to make content more accessible. Simplified tools for small-holder farmers are also being developed for them to easily access and digest the information.

North Park Veterinary Group Ltd

Provide a brief overview of your project?
Within our practice I led a major drive to see a reduction in the prophylactic use of spectinomycin in lambs at birth which was commonly being used to “prevent” watery mouth (E. coli) infections. Plentiful research has demonstrated that the most important factor in preventing watery mouth is the provision of colostrum and whilst spectinomycin has a place in some individual cases, it’s blanket use is unnecessary and promotes the development of antimicrobial resistance. This involved heavily re-educating farmers and required farmers to make significant behavioural changes and changes to their on-farm practices.

Additional work spanning three years (2016,17,18) has bench marked 15 farms in our flock health club for mg/kg PCU antibiotic usage. At the onset of this project the sheep industry had very little knowledge of the total amount of antibiotics being use on sheep farms in the UK. I began recording this data to see how my farms compared to the national average that had just been reported by Piers et al., but also to see the differences in usage between my farms and why this might exist. This data has subsequently been included in RUMA’s Target Task Force 2019 report.
Please cite 3 examples of outcomes or impacts from the project on tackling AMR.
My drive towards reducing the prophylactic use of spectinomycin in lambs at birth saw North Park Veterinary Group sell 14% less spectinomycin in 2018 compared to 2017. 47.6% of farms had an active reduction in usage, 34.6% saw no change and 17.8% had an increase due to flock expansion. These changes, although limited, showed some progress which was pleasing considering the weather in spring 2018 was very cold and wet (“Beast from the East”) which would have increased the likelihood of watery mouth infections. Also the process of not treating lambs at birth was a major behavioural change and many farmers were scared to take the step towards change and wanted to see success on other farms first.

In 2019 total sales fell by 54% from levels sold in 2018. 67% of farms had an active reduction in usage from the previous year, 15% of farms had no change and 18% had an increase. This level of reduction was very pleasing and reflects the continued discussion that we were making with our farmers about the need to reduce spectinomycin. We also found that using farmers that had reduced their usage without having problems as “ambassadors” was a major help in driving changes. This reduction in neonatal antibiotic usage would obviously be detrimental if lambs were to then die – however there were no reports of increased lamb losses as a result of watery mouth following the reduction in usage of spectinomycin. In fact, many anecdotally reported improved lamb performance, most likely as a result of ensuring adequate colostrum intake in lambs.

With regards to the PCU work in our flock health club we found comparable results to those published on a UK level.
How is the project to be developed in the future?

The discussion regarding the use of antibiotics in neonates will continue, together with the monitoring of mg/kg PCU on all flocks within the practice.