Tackling antimicrobial resistance through improved livestock health and welfare

Colleagues at Newcastle University are partnering in a new ambitious and ground-breaking EU – Chinese research project as internationally renowned experts and scientists from the European Union and China work together to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in pigs and poultry.

A key pillar of the exciting HealthyLivestock project is disease prevention. This, combined with prompt and targeted interventions, will result in a reduced use of antimicrobials and less AMR: a clear win-win for animals and people.

Infectious diseases are the most common diseases in the world. In severe cases such disease can be very serious and life-threatening. Medicines against these diseases, called antimicrobials, are one of the most valuable inventions in the history of human and animal medicine.

Since their discovery, antimicrobials have saved the lives of millions of people and animals. However, every antimicrobial use inevitably promotes the emergence of defence mechanisms by the disease agent. Bacteria will become resistant to the treatment, making the once so valuable antimicrobial worthless.

In livestock production systems animals are more than often held under sub-optimal conditions. Moreover, efforts to maximize production put further pressure on the animals’ immune system, making the animals more susceptible to infections. Finally this may result in situations where-in the animals become sick and have to be treated with antimicrobials, with an enhanced risk for the emergence of AMR.

HealthyLivestock will tackle antimicrobial resistance at its roots. Through a multidisciplinary approach it will lead to:

  • reducing the risk of exposure to disease agents;
  • increased resilience of the animals towards disease challenges;
  • early detection of health problems and specific diseases;
  • and if antimicrobials are needed, a more precise use or alternatives.

Special tools to help farmers will be developed. The outcome of HealthyLivestock research will be conveyed to all relevant parties including farmers and veterinarians, animal welfare organisations, politicians and companies across the supply chain.

HealthyLivestock is coordinated by Wageningen Research. The UK research component of the project is being delivered by Newcastle University utilising the Centre for Digital Innovation Applied to Livestock (C-DIAL), co-funded by CIEL through Innovate UK.

For further details on the project, including a complete list of partners please click here.