Next week sees the start of a series of farm open days designed to demonstrate ways to improve livestock health and welfare while reducing the need to use antibiotics.
The open days have been organised by Arwain DGC (Defnydd Gwrthficrobaidd Cyfrifol/Responsible Antimicrobial Use), a Welsh programme designed to help vets and farmers to address the spread of antibiotic resistance in animals.
Through training, applying new technology, data gathering, and improving understanding, the programme helps farmers, equine keepers and vets in Wales reduce the need to use antibiotics, reducing the risk of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) development.
In January 2023, several of Arwain DGC’s Proof of Concept (PoC) farms will open their gates to demonstrate how novel technology and good practice techniques can reduce the need to use antibiotics.
On 19 January, the focus will be on Upper House Farm near Abergavenny, where the Watkins family are working to boost their beef herd’s health, welfare and performance by improving existing shed ventilation and design.
The following week (25 January), Pwllheli dairy farmer Vaughan Davies will demonstrate his use of pedometer tags at Nant farm to monitor heat and the health of his cows continuously.
Using this technology, Vaughan aims to reduce antibiotic use on the farm while increasing his herd’s health, welfare, and productivity.
For dairy farmers, capturing data on antibiotic use and reducing use is becoming a crucial customer requirement – especially in milk processing contracts.
This month’s open days follow the success of the first PoC farm event, held in the autumn at Hafod y Maidd near Cerrigydrudion in Conwy.
The open day was hosted by Iwan Davies, who welcomed visitors to his farm to see how novel technology is helping him detect and tackle disease in his suckler herd early and reduce the need for antibiotics.
Iwan, who farms near Cerrigydrudion in Conwy, is trialling bolus technology. He shared his experiences with some 30 visitors at the open day, which was also broadcast on S4C’s Ffermio programme.”
At the open day, visitors heard how bolus technology acts as an “early warning system”, alerting Iwan to potential infection in a cow when it is in heat or the early stages of calving and other health matters such as mastitis or lameness.
This notification enables him to act before the disease develops and the cow reaches the stage where it needs antibiotic treatment.
Ian warned, however, that: “The system does not take the place of good husbandry or management, we’ve still got our eye on everything, but anything that can further help us – and help reduce the need for antibiotics – is a plus.”
The open days are organised by Arwain DGC Technical Officers Eiry Williams (North Wales) and Elan Davies (South Wales).
Elan said: “Open days give us a great opportunity to showcase some of the brilliant and important work that’s happening at some of our PoC farms, where we can disseminate project results and show the various technologies, innovative ideas or general best farming practices that are happening on these farms, all with the aim to reduce the use and need for antimicrobials.”
In the coming months, Arwain DGC will host more open days throughout Wales, demonstrating measures successfully employed at the PoC farms.
Farm locations include Carmarthenshire, Conwy, Powys, and the Vale of Glamorgan. More details, including the locations, dates and times, can be found online.