The responsible use of antibiotics in maintaining livestock health

Antibiotics are vital medicinal therapies, used to treat bacterial infections in both animals and humans. However in order to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of antibiotics and their safe use in food animals, antibiotics need to be monitored and used responsibly – a key practice in the rearing and care of livestock.

Antibiotics are used to either eliminate or slow the spread of bacteria.  They are vital in preserving the health of animals Food security and safety is heavily dependent on responsible antibiotic use. and the prevention of antibiotic resistance.


What is antibiotic resistance?

While antibiotics are used to prevent the growth of bacteria in humans and animals, occasionally bacteria resist this treatment and continue to spread. This is known as antibiotic resistance, and it represents a significant threat to human and animal health worldwide.

A contributing factor to antibiotic resistance is the irresponsible use of antibiotics in therapeutic care – using antibiotics so often that bacteria and viruses begin to resist their effects, resulting in the spread of infection and ultimately leading to severe illness and death.

The more antibiotics are used, the greater the chance of antibiotic resistance – and so with this in mind, the agriculture industry has begun to look at using antibiotics responsibly. What this ultimately means is using antibiotics only when absolutely necessary, in order to ensure continued food safety, and minimise the harmful effects of antibiotic resistance.


The objectives of responsible antibiotic use

 A commitment to the responsible use of antibiotics in farming practices aims to:

  • Ensure the ongoing effectiveness of antibiotics, if used when only medically necessary. This can only be done with professional veterinary oversight, and under strict conditions.
  • Minimise the spread of disease so that antibiotic intervention is rarely required. This involves a renewed focus on hygiene, biosecurity, vaccination, quality nutrition, and access to clean water.
  • Prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance in animals, which could then be transferred to the food chain, causing a further spread in the human population.

By treating sick animals under the supervision of a veterinarian, following all appropriate guidelines and using antibiotics when absolutely necessary, you too can help to stop the spread of antibiotic resistance, and ensure the safety of the food chain.


How AFSA can help

At AFSA, we recognise just how crucial responsible antibiotic practices are. For this reason, all our business units are united in offering practical, affordable and effective solutions to the global threat that antibiotic resistance presents.


Lavendula – Animal Feeds & Nutrition Solutions:

The current worldwide trend is for fewer antibiotics to be used in animal feeds at therapeutic levels. To this end many European countries have been in search for viable alternatives for years, however so far no substitute has been found for the replacement of certain AGPs Antimicrobial Growth Performance Promoters (AGP’s) on a one-to-one basis. Research trials have shown that a combination of different feed additives can and may be used to replace certain AGPs under specific conditions, although while AGPs do work, and the cost per ton of feed is relatively low, the changeover to AGP-free animal production will be a slow one.


There are a number of products that are becoming available in the industry to replace or reduce the use of AGPs and Zinc Oxide in animal feeds. These products contain ingredients such as:

  • Organic acids, either as an individual acid or as blends of different organic acids.
  • Essential oils and plant extracts. Different essential oils have different modes of action, with only specific combinations being economically viable for specific farms.
  • Higher levels of antioxidants and the use of polyphenols in replacing Vitamin E.
  • Increasing levels of ingredients such as Betaine, etc.
  • The use of enzymes to improve the digestion of the feed, resulting in less stress on the intestinal microflora and improving nutrient uptake.

While these alternatives do go a long way towards reducing the risk of antibiotic resistance, they are also less cost-effective than AGP solutions, and do not present a one-size-fits-all solution. The right combinations still need to be investigated and decided upon, on a case-by-case basis. As such, our Lavendula team is on hand to discuss your particular needs, and help you select the right alternatives for economically improved animal performance.


Mooivet – Animal Health Products:

Should the use of antibiotics become necessary, Mooivet CC offers a wide range of antibiotics and other supportive medicine to treat the ailment.

Please note that many of the prescribed medications are Scheduled 4 (Act 101/1965) and cannot be dispensed without a veterinary prescription.  Make sure to consult your veterinarian for more information, and professional oversight.


Agri FARMACY SA Professional Veterinary services:

Our team of professional veterinarians are always on hand to provide advice and guidance, and to conduct on-site visits and consultations to ensure that antibiotics are used responsibly and effectively in the treatment of sick livestock.

While medicines can only be dispensed with a veterinarian’s prescription, there are additional measures you can take in your own capacity to ensure your livestock return to full health when sick:

  • First, conduct a thorough examination of your livestock to identify any sick animals.
  • Follow the advice of your veterinarian to the letter.
  • Ensure that you have the right medicine to treat your sick animals, and review the treatment protocols to make sure it is administered correctly.
  • Make sure you know the weight of the animals in order to administer the correct dosage, and review injection sites to ensure that each area receives the appropriate amount of medicine.
  • Pay attention to medicinal timing guidelines and monitor your sick animals regularly to assess their condition, and determine if any additional treatments are needed.
  • Keep accurate records of the recovery process, and follow the withdrawal period as indicated – this will ensure that no unhealthy meat enters the food chain at any time.
  • Ask for help if you are unsure of anything, at any time – your vet will always be available to provide the correct guidance and advise you on a course of treatment.


While over-the-counter medication (Act 36/1947) is available as an alternative to antibiotics, only veterinarians are able to prescribe scheduled medication (Act 101/1965) and advise as to whether the use of antibiotics is necessary. In order to maintain best farming practices and ensure responsible antibiotic use, simply contact our team for an on-site consultation, and our veterinarians will be happy to examine your animals and advise you accordingly. The more we can all do to ensure the responsible use of antibiotics going forward, the more we can collectively contribute to the continued health of our animals and our fellow man.




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