Nutritional strategies to reduce antibiotic use

Published 13. October 2017

High quality nutrition and a well-managed environment can play a critical role in reducing the need for antibiotics. Low crude protein diets and high quality ingredients for young animals are recommended so as not to compromise performance. This holistic view of animal production is needed for the future.


Antibiotics are no longer required to ensure efficiency or performance. Overall use of antimicrobi- als in Danish livestock production has been reduced by about 50% between 1994 and 2015, mainly by discontinued use of antimicrobials as growth promotors in 1998 (8 years before the EU ban in 2006). Prophylactic use has also been further reduced following the 2011 yellow card system which focuses on benchmarking across farms. The production of pigs increased in the same time period which is mainly a result of higher efficiency as measured by piglets per sow per year (PSY). There is no doubt that the enhanced number of PSY has also led to a decreased weight at weaning which plays an important role in the way in which newly weaned piglets must be fed.

We are all aware of the acute stress that weaning brings not only to nutritional parameters (intake depression, changes to diet) but also to health (new litter mates, environment). It is therefore paramount that the diet pre and post weaning is the best quality possible. Feeding a high quality creep and weaning diet can help reduce the effect of some of these fac- tors. Dietary ingredients therefore, need to be of a consistent high quality (nutrient content and availability), palatable and cost effective.

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