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Good hygiene practices will help livestock farmers meet antibiotic reduction targets, says experts. Prioritise hygiene to meet targets

Good hygiene practices will help livestock farmers meet antibiotic reduction targets, says experts.

“If we are to continue to cut our use of antibiotics, the highest hygiene levels are needed, especially during lambing and calving,” says vet Dan Humphries from Horizon Dairy Vets. Postnatal diseases occur on livestock units largely due to a lack of hygiene, he adds.

“Focusing on animal husbandry and using products that minimise risk at key times, such as lambing and calving, will help farmers reduce costs and antibiotic use,” says Mr Humphries. “Any equipment should be kept in a solution of disinfectant when not being used.”

A solution of 1:250 of disinfectant is advised to store items such as water bowls, teats and milk dispensers,  adds Mr Humphries.

Attention to detail

For lambing and calving, the hygienic preparation of sheds and pens will reduce the likelihood of postnatal diseases. Pressure washing using detergent before spraying with a disinfectant will help to eliminate bacteria, viruses, and other micro-organisms.

“Attention to detail, preparation, and routines will help reduce the risk of infection and reduce costly losses. This will also reduce any subsequent reliance on antibiotics which will help the whole livestock sector in the UK improve animal welfare.”

About one third of losses in lowland sheep flocks occur in the neonatal period and most are the result of diseases that can be prevented by keeping the shed or lambing area clean and disinfected, according to BASF rural hygiene specialist Helen Ainsworth.