Animal nutrition firm Biomin recently announced its involvement in a five-year, 6 million-euro research consortium backed by the European Union to decrease antibiotic use in pigs.
The "Alternatives to Veterinary ANTimicrobials" (AVANT) Project, involving 14 partner organizations from nine countries and funded by Sustainable Resources for Food Safety & Growth European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation Platform, is led by the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
The project seeks to develop alternatives to antimicrobials for the management of bacterial infections in pigs — especially diarrhea during the weaning period — as the major indication for antimicrobial use in livestock, Biomin said.
Dr. Veronika Nagl, research program director gut performance at Biomin, said, “Postweaning diarrhea is a serious issue for the swine industry. ... By applying our scientific know-how to real on-farm challenges, we aim to make farm animals healthier and more productive. This benefits the industry and society as a whole through greater sustainability, a lower risk of antibiotic resistance, enhanced food security and better food safety.”
Biomin noted that the need to find novel solutions to prevent postweaning diarrhea in piglets has gained higher importance in recent years due to several factors:
- No effective vaccines are available at present.
- The use of medical zinc oxide will be banned in Europe in 2022.
- The use of colistin has been restricted due to its critical importance in human medicine.
- Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli has the potential to be resistant to all veterinary antimicrobials of lower medical importance.
“Piglet scours is a costly, multi-factorial challenge. Pig producers need an expanded set of natural and innovative tools in order to successfully move away from the application of antimicrobials and zinc, which are associated with several drawbacks," Biomin scientist Dr. Verity Ann Sattler said. "Within the [AVANT] project, Biomin will test a novel feed additive that we’ve developed to promote good gut health in swine using state-of-the-art tools and techniques, including '-omics' technologies and bioinformatics.”
AVANT is an inter-sectorial project aimed at developing alternatives to antimicrobials for the management of bacterial infections in pigs, especially diarrhea during the weaning period, as the major indication for antimicrobial use in livestock in Europe. During pre-clinical studies, the efficacy, toxicity and mode of action of these interventions is tested, and their dosage and formulation are optimized. The results and a survey of veterinarian, farmer and consumer perceptions of antimicrobial alternatives will be used together with legal and economic considerations to select three interventions for large-scale farm trials that will assess clinical efficacy and the impact on antimicrobial use.