huhThe Disarm project is therefore about collecting different strategies related to the use of antibiotics across borders. To disseminate this knowledge, the researchers also set up a database, courses, workshops and webinars. The project also wants people to work together in ‘Farm Health Teams’ to reduce antibiotic consumption.
Farm Health Team
A Farm Health Team ideally consists of a farmer, possibly agricultural staff, a veterinarian, an equipment supplier, a feed supplier and possibly other members of the sector.
Together, the team is considering how they can reduce antibiotic consumption on the affected farm while maintaining or improving economic performance and animal health. Across various European countries, 40 occupational health and safety teams were set up and followed up. That trial period is over and has proved successful. Disarm released a toolbox based on the findings of Farm Health Teams to help other livestock farmers and their local advisors set up and use a multi-stakeholder group to reduce the need for antibiotic treatments. Through effective tips, you learn to start a team and map the company’s situation.
The aim of the project is also to get in touch with other livestock farmers from different countries. Therefore, you can also join a cross-border Facebook group called ‘Disarm Community of Practice’. Everyone in the sector, from farmers to veterinarians and advisers, shares their experiences with various initiatives. Challenges, advantages and disadvantages and new tools get attention. The topics are broad and range from hygiene procedures to improved rationing for healthier animals. To join the Facebook group, you need to fill out some questions to prove that you are from the industry. You then have access to all information.
At the beginning of the process, you fill out BioCheck.UGent, which measures the biosecurity of your business. You also implement the Adkar coaching method, which guides people to realize changes in their business operations. Through a score you achieve, it becomes clear in which areas you can still use support. You will then receive a company diagnosis and an action plan from the project. This plan will be followed up for a while, after which there will be a subsequent evaluation to map the progress.
In Disarm’s knowledge database, you can search for various studies on antibiotic use. The main topics are improved biosafety, resistant animals, disease prevention, alternative treatments and targeted use of antibiotics.
Experience with participating poultry farmers
Poultry farmers Wendy and Joris participated in the Disarm project. They would reduce salmonella infections on their farms and thus also reduce the use of antibiotics. Their company veterinarian therefore advised them to seize the opportunity and seek the project.
The couple is very happy with their participation. Wendy is particularly enthusiastic about the Farm Health Team they have created: “Thanks to the project, we have been able to bring together different partners from our company into one team. The team included: one from the hatchery, one from our animal feed company, the vet, one from the Disarm project (ILVO) and ourselves.
Every 2nd round we sat around the table to discuss what could change and to see the development of our antibiotic use. That way, we could change our leadership step by step because we got a new perspective on it.
In addition to salmonella, there are still major challenges in poultry farming today. For example, more and more rules are coming from the government and we are now focusing more than ever on the welfare of every chicken. Just think of daylight and more space for each chicken. Reducing the use of antibiotics is not easy, especially for intensive livestock farmers, but it is achieved gradually by working closely with different partners. We really feel that after the project. We therefore recommend everyone to talk and sit down with all your partners. ”