Expert opinion

Can less be more?

Rules, rules, rules…. The livestock sector is becoming increasingly governed by legislation. While no-one can dispute the need for this, surely abiding by the rules can’t be the only incentive for reducing antibiotic use in the livestock sector.

Regulations to combat antibiotic resistance are forcing livestock producers to restrict antibiotics to therapeutic use only – and in some countries this is even becoming increasingly limited. There is no silver bullet solution for replacing antibiotic usage across the board, but really, does there need to be?

The sector is big enough to acknowledge a range of alternative solutions; specie-specific, age related, targeted towards specific disease challenges, etc.

With the need for antibiotics beginning with increased pathogen loads, livestock needs to be better prepared for bacterial challenges through management practices or nutritional solutions such as enzymes, yeast, bio-functional feed additives, etc. Combating bacteria through water additives and the emergence of bacteriophages are also addressed in this special edition. Individual mindset also has a role to play in facilitating change. Swedish researchers found that “structural changes can be important for behavioural change”.

So there you have it, rules could be the catalyst needed to drive producers to think more about alternative, and equally successful ways, to raise their livestock efficiently.