The fourth dimension in animal antibiotic reduction

Animal Nutrition Views

Ioannis Mavromichalis, Ph.D., gives his views on poultry, pig and dairy nutrition based on his experience as a nutrition consultant with clients around the world.

The fourth dimension in animal antibiotic reduction

Something is missing from the puzzle that prevents us from reducing antibiotic usage to desired levels.

Fighting the overuse of antibiotics in animal production is an ongoing project that is already closing two decades in the European Union, if we account for the initial attempts from certain countries before the generic ban in 2006. Yet, reducing antibiotic usage to acceptable levels remains an indefinable target despite the best efforts, even by the most ardent believers of this quest.

It is not that we are lacking in knowledge. Indeed, the United States is on the path of the EU, verifying that all that knowledge we obtained is true and repeatable. No, knowledge abounds!

It is not that we are lacking in products. In fact, we have every kind of possible product that we can use to achieve our goal — at higher cost, yes, but we can remove antibiotics. No, additives are plenty!

It is not that we are in need of experienced people. We have transferred personnel from the EU to the U.S. in order to help the industry there move even further. No, experience is not lacking!

The missing part — the fourth dimension, if you will allow it — is Strategy, with a capital S. We are applying any of the other three dimensions mentioned above in a spasmodic, sporadic mode, without thinking we need to put everything together at the same time toward the common goal. And, you might ask, how is this done? Simply: by following a roadmap that defines steps, people, products and timing for each phase. It is a time-consuming project that needs to be broken down into steps. You cannot lower-down dietary crude protein and add an additive without first making sure animals enjoy a healthier environment, and you cannot start vaccinations against colibacteria before you make sure the right personnel are trained to manufacture the new diets.

In the end, the tools are not enough. We need master craftsmen and craftswomen, too.