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IN his article ‘Working together to safeguard animal health’ (VR, February 13, 2016, vol 178, p 160) the Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens, used the expression ‘prevention is better than cure’ regarding the prevention of incursions of disease into the UK, which might bring significant losses to farmers. However, later on, discussing antimicrobial resistance and the responsible use of antibiotics, he states that: ‘Routine preventive or prophylactic use is no longer acceptable, and we need to ensure that disease is prevented wherever possible, reinforcing the importance of good animal husbandry and biosecurity measures.’ Is this practical and reasonable, and how many pig and poultry farmers are in a position to operate in this way?
I think most veterinarians would support the statement that ‘Management systems that are sustainable only by regular and predictable therapeutic use of antibiotics at key stages must go.’ However, the onus is on the farmer to improve his business model. If the farmer doesn't do this, how does this leave the veterinary surgeon exposed regarding not being able to fulfil his duties to the health and welfare of the animals under his care?
It appears that preventive use of antibiotics is …