Less is more – prevention instead of antibiotics

In order to reduce the use of antibiotics, Bell Switzerland is implementing extensive prevention measures in integrated poultry production. An important role is played by Bell’s advisory and health service, which provides significant support to producers in maintaining animal health with preventive measures.

The use of antibiotics has been further reduced in the last three years

It has long been known that the excessive and improper use of antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine is the reason for an increasing number of bacteria becoming resistant to it. In order to prevent the emergence of resistance and to curb its spread, the Swiss Federal Council launched the Antibiotic Resistance Strategy Switzerland (StAR) in 2015. Eight fields of action were defined in this strategy – one of them also about animal husbandry.

However, the effort to reduce the use of antibiotics is not new. “At Bell, antibiotics have not been used as performance enhancers for more than 30 years. Also therapeutically they are only used when no other treatment is possible”, explains Dr med. vet. Kathrin Kühni Boghenbor, head of Zell’s advisory and health service and one of the people responsible for reducing the use of antibiotics in Bell’s integrated poultry production in Switzerland.

With the start of StAR, however, the topic was given even higher priority at Bell. Consequently, the “reduction treatments” project was launched at the beginning of 2016. The entire production chain was systematically examined and possible risk areas were identified. Subsequently, Zell’s advisory and health service, together with animal owners, implemented various measures to maintain animal health and further reduce the therapeutic use of antibiotics. Improvement measures were implemented in areas such as stable preparation, cleaning and disinfection of stalls during empty periods, the 24-hour check, stable management and disinfection of drinking troughs. With success. “Although the use of antibiotics in Swiss poultry production was already at a comparatively low level, the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine has been further reduced in recent years”, explains Kathrin Kühni Boghenbor. At Bell, the number of herds that had to be treated with antibiotics was reduced to 3.2 per cent.