Which is better UF or USF

Saving antibiotics is a hot topic among livestock doctors and farmers - especially when it comes to pigs. In public opinion, the picture has solidified that we unnecessarily use far too many antibiotics as performance boosters and to nurture our animals that are not kept in a species-appropriate manner, with this practice we are responsible for the emergence of multi-resistant germs and thus putting human lives at risk.

This oversimplified and unjust picture should not be discussed further here, it would go beyond the scope of the article. However, pointing the finger at human medicine, the globalized movement of people and goods and the slowdown in the development of new antimicrobial drugs is only of limited help if you still have enough opportunities to sweep your doorstep. Pigs in Austria consume tons of antibiotics a year, and even if we belong to the frugal nations in an international comparison, I claim that we could get by with a lot less.

Antibiotic savings using the example of a respiratory disease: At the very least, antibiotics can be saved when it comes to treating severely ill animals. A febrile pneumonia caused by bacteria, for example, must be treated with an effective antibiotic immediately, in sufficient doses and in sufficient length, and if necessary with a reserve antibiotic; anything else would be cruelty to animals.

Slightly ill animals with a slight cough, on the other hand, do not need to be reflexively supplied with antibiotics - it is often enough to do nothing at all or to be supported with horseradish products or other functional plant substances, e.g. B. with thyme, sage and eucalyptus. This is especially true if the pigs have not slacked off in their eating performance, there is no fever and their general well-being is hardly affected. Unfortunately, some vets take too little time for animal observation, for a rudimentary propaedeutic examination, and farmers for their part are not always prepared to pay something for this (non-) veterinary service, even if the bottom line is that they get cheaper than a classic one antimicrobial drug is prescribed and sold.
Another disadvantage: a group of pigs that have been “supplied” with a broad spectrum antibiotic “to be on the safe side” causes the veterinarian fewer follow-up problems than a misjudgment of the situation or a sudden aggravation the next morning, which a few hours later can be accompanied by a few dead pigs and almost certainly reduced daily weight gain by the end of fattening and thus costs money or, in the case of breeding sows, is accompanied by animals that raise fewer piglets for one to two years than they optimally could because they have developed pneumonia with adhesions of the pleura. If you look at the dissection of a lung after pneumonia and pleurisy that was treated too late, which was caused by Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae, you sometimes wonder how oxygen still got into the body with this destroyed organ. And in this case too late already means 24 hours too late.

A relatively seldom implemented strategy to save antibiotics and increase their effectiveness is to combine phytotherapeutic agents with antibiotics. Plant-based active ingredients help to prevent biofilms on the surfaces of the bronchi, in which pathogenic germs survive, protected from both antibiotic levels and the body's own immune response. They help to loosen the tough mucus (thyme, sage, eucalyptus), stimulate the blood circulation (horseradish) and ensure that T lymphocytes multiply faster (Echinacea purpurea). In this way, the duration of treatment with an antibiotic can possibly be shortened or the success of the treatment can be achieved with greater certainty. Pigs with a weak immune system and longer sick pigs are breeding grounds for resistant germs and must be avoided at all costs.

The greatest and most efficient instrument for saving antibiotics, however, is disease prophylaxis: this of course includes vaccinations, but these alone will not save us. They are an indispensable tool for keeping pigs healthy and breaking chains of infection, and primarily affect the important and often viral pig diseases such as circovirus, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, influenza, parvovirus, etc., etc. Most of the bacterial diseases in pigs are more likely factor diseases, as a secondary infection to a viral disease, as a reaction to too little or the wrong hygiene measures, feed with poor quality (mycotoxins, germ contamination) or in the wrong composition, much too finely structured and thus poison for the pig gastrointestinal tract, who is very sensitive to it. The climate in the pigsty is a separate issue - in addition to the well-known pollutant gases, we may underestimate the effects of the sometimes ridiculously high amounts of fine dust on the lung health of pigs. For decades we have been discussing the advantages and disadvantages of various Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae vaccines and vaccination strategies, instead of talking about the elephant herd in the room that we actually need completely differently designed pig stalls. Coronaviruses indoors are relatively easily transmitted from CO2 indicator values ​​of 1000 ppm - we are already satisfied if 3000 ppm are not exceeded in the barn in winter; for a 24/7 stay, mind you. Bio and animal welfare stalls are no better off when it comes to fine dust pollution. The area of ​​feed and water supply is also a source of seemingly endless possibilities for serious errors in the areas of hygiene, structure, composition, number of eating and drinking options and their functionality.

A great hope with regard to the savings potential of antibiotics is also the sustained eradication of pathogens such as PRRSV, mycoplasma, Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae, Serpulina hyodysenteriae and smack mites - and the development of so-called highly healthy herds. However, this includes the relatively expensive stable in a suitable secluded location with all facets of biosecurity: fence around the site, (compulsory) shower, UV disinfection for incoming equipment and materials, carcass house with cooling at the company boundary, ideally a drive-through tub for tire disinfection arriving trucks, etc. Only very, very few companies in Austria have these options; this is also due to the comparatively low number of animals per farm: such costs cannot be generated. Without the whole accompanying concert, i.e. with the local lack of biosecurity, which is made up of unwashed animal transporters (which are not economically worth cleaning and disinfecting between the smaller companies), TKV storage areas in the middle of the farm, because otherwise the neighbors would have to accept olfactory nuisances, amicably divided liquid manure tanks, etc., the highly healthy company in Austria is poor - always in fear of reinfections and as a piglet producer restricted to direct relationships with selected fatteners. It is better to rely on animals with a strong immune system that can withstand a little more if necessary; And in order to achieve this, the least of all is to hold on to antibiotic medication, but rather a critical look by the farmers at the field, where the next fodder will hopefully ripen healthily. All the banal daily "good practice" actions, such as B. clean feed troughs, one more inspection round or the will to introduce “split nursing” in farrowing in order to give every suckling pig a good start in life with sufficient colostrum intake.

And for veterinarians, pig medicine means: If we want to do it well, we have to deal with technical knowledge (in the field of feeding and climate control) in addition to medical expertise, and know exactly the work processes in the company (although we are not on site every day), Find creative solutions when the ideal approach cannot be implemented in reality, and also take economic framework conditions into account. An overview of common problems in arable farming or in forage preservation and storage that can lead to fungal fodder should be available. Psychological instinct is just as important as a tolerance for frustration when dealing with managers and employees and their established behavior. Pretty versatile, right? The better you master the entire spectrum of skills, the easier it is to save on antibiotics in the long term while still producing healthier animals - and at best even being paid for them.