The aim of this case study was to quantify antibiotic (AB) use in Italian weaning (W) and fattening (F) units differentiated for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) occurrence. Farms were classified as either PRRS negative (–) or PRRS positive (+) based on the circulation of the virus among the animals. In all the farms, the modified live PRRS virus (PRRSV) vaccine was provided to all the animals. In the PRRS– farms, the level of circulating antibodies was low, and the disease, in its clinical form, did not occur. In the PRRS+ farms, the level of circulating antibodies against the virus was high, and the disease was recurrent. Data regarding AB consumption were collected from 2017 to 2020, and the active compounds (ACs) were expressed as milligrams of AC/total kilogram of body weight (BW) produced. Each AC was classified into one of four categories according to the European Medicines Agency classification of ABs for prudent and responsible use in animals: Avoid, Restrict, Caution, and Prudence. Data regarding the ACs in each category were analyzed using a linear model that included production phase, PRRS status, and their interaction as factors. Performance parameters, average age of the pigs at the end of each phase, daily live weight gain, feed-to-gain ratio, total losses, cost index, and medication costs were significantly influenced by the PRRS chain. The use of class B ABs was not affected by production phase or PRRS status. Conversely, for class C ABs, interaction between the two factors ( p = 0.02) was observed; W/PRRS+ and F/PRRS+ showed the greatest AB use for this class ( p = 0.003). For class D ABs, the interaction was significant ( p = 0.01); class C and D ABs were used more in the weaning ( p = 0.07) than in the fattening phase ( p = 0.003). For the weaning phase, the use of class C and D ABs was greater in the PRRS+ than in the PRRS– chain ( p < 0.01). In conclusion, PRRS status affected the growth of pigs and economic performance. Moreover, PRRS status significantly influenced the use of ABs during all the growing periods with the greatest impact being on the weaning phase.
Background and aims: In Europe, the antimicrobial use (AMU) for food-producing animals has decreased rapidly. However, studies indicate that a too strict policy, with too restrictive AMU, is potentially problematic for veterinarians because it threatens animal welfare and creates tensions between farmers and veterinarians. The AMU in Sweden is among the lowest in Europe, and regulation of AMU in farm animals is strict. The aim of our study was to explore how Swedish veterinarians describe the relations between (1) being restrictive with antibiotics due to the risk of AMR and (2) concerns for animal welfare and/or the veterinarian-client relationship. Methods: Semi-structured interviews with 21 veterinarians, working with dairy cattle, were performed. The transcripts were analysed, and a number of dominant patterns which recurred in all, or most of, the interviews were identified. Result: The interviewed veterinarians described AMR prevention and tackling the threat AMR poses towards public health, as central for their profession and as influencing their everyday practice and decisions on AMU. Importantly, veterinarians described accounting for AMR in everyday practice as fairly unproblematic, both in relation to animal welfare as well as in relation to farmers. The veterinarians generally perceived that they could treat animals with antibiotics when justified, and being restrictive with antibiotics was described as an expression of professional skill and not as challenging as animal welfare. Moreover, they stated that restrictive AMU seldom or never caused conflicts with farmers. Conclusion: Strict AMU policy and restrictive AMU do not necessarily put veterinarians in a problematic position where they are caught between conflicting demands and risks.
Background Global consumption of antibiotics in animal farming largely exceeds human health care usages by representing a major threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria spreading in the environment and along the agri-food supply chain: thus, health institutions, policy makers and private stakeholders multiply the initiatives promoting a more prudent use. In Italy, since 2016, the main supermarket chains have been proposing lines of animal products obtained without or with a reduced use of antibiotics in farms, which tripled sales between 2017 and 2019. In the poultry meat market, about 40% of total sales originate from certified production obtained without using antibiotics. Our study intends to quantify the current willingness to pay of Italian consumers for such goods. Methods Data on prices and marketing characteristics of broiler breast were collected in supermarkets of three towns in Northern Italy. 173 observations led to identify 75 different product attributes related to price: production systems (e.g. organic, without antibiotics, improved animal welfare, etc.), types of cuts (slices, thin slices, etc.), size and types of packaging, brands, supermarket chains, shop size and location (city center, suburbs, etc.). A hedonic price model was developed by aggregating the identified attributes into 14 binary variables. The aggregation was validated by interviews to marketing experts from two big companies of the poultry industry. Results The hedonic price analysis assumes a condition of competitive market equilibrium and that the price of one good results from consumer preferences for its specific attributes. In our model, broiler breast produced without antibiotics and with improved animal welfare standards benefits on average a 14.6% price increase with respect to similar products not claiming this characteristic. The attribute showing the higher impact on price is the “organic product” certification (66.4% increase on average). Other characteristics originating remarkable price increases are the cut in slices (+15.6%) and thin slices (+21.4%), producer brands (+18.6%) compared to supermarket and discount brands, and shop location in a metropolitan city centre (+12.4%). Conclusions The 14.6% average price increase for “antibiotic-free” products in the Italian competitive market of broiler breast is justified by the greater utility perceived by consumers. However, such an increase is about of the same size obtained by other more conventional marketing attributes, like the type of cut and brands. The rapid growth of “antibiotic-free” poultry meat supply in Italy may have already led consumers to consider this attribute as an almost ordinary feature of the product. The significantly higher prices paid for “organic” broiler breast is supposedly due to higher production costs and its destination to more willing-to-spend consumers. But it may also be assumed that consumers consider organic products as “antibiotic-free”, which is not true under the current EU regulations. These aspects should be further investigated.
In 1986, Sweden, as the first country in the world banned all use of antibiotics as growth promoters in food animal production. Today Sweden has the third lowest sales of veterinary antimicrobial agents for food producing animals in Europe. In 2018, total sales of antibiotics for animal use in Sweden were 10 042 kg active substance as compared to 53.4 tonnes in 1984 (before the ban). The low use of antibiotics in animals and the comparatively favorable situation in Sweden with regards to antibiotic resistance are the results of decades of inter-sectorial collaboration and work on disease prevention and animal health. This review is a quick summary of the Swedish work towards a low and prudent use of antibiotics, including figures on antibiotic use in Swedish production animals and a discussion about important success factors as well as lessons learned.