Vaccination for the control and eradication of disease

Check out this video about vaccination protocols for the control and eradication of disease.

Microbial toxin elimination from feed and gastrointestinal tract by selective adsorption

Every day, farmers all across the world work hard to give their animals the best possible care. However, there are many challenges – among them how to find balanced and cost effective feed and how to keep livestock healthy. Moreover, due to climate change, raw materials are even more exposed to increased temperatures and higher humidity which results in microbial contamination and subsequent toxin production, for example mycotoxins which pose a serious threat to animal health and performance. Today’s solutions are innovative concepts dealing with climate change and increasing feed efficiency and customer convenience. The negative aspects of climate change can be easily targeted by providing the animals cost effective multi-level nutritional concepts able to prevent these issues by selective toxin absorption (avoiding nutrient malnutrition), create a healthy gut and gastrointestinal barrier, supplemented by ingredients promoting immune boosting and liver function. This is all combined in concepts such as VitaFix, an alternative for antibiotics and combining advanced adsorbing agents together with organic acids and natural antioxidants. Farmers across the globe are very satisfied with such multi-level solutions as witnessed in the video.

Organic acid blends as reliable solution for reduction of antibiotics in piglet production

Weaning pigs is a challenging time. Piglets are always very sensitive to E. coli diarrhoea and after 10 days Streptococcus problems can arise, sometimes causing disease in the brain (meningitis) and other organs (septicaemia). This causes piglets to limp, lose their balance and tilt their head. Streptococcus requires a lot of follow-up, control and which takes a lot of time and work. In reality, farmers are continuously testing concepts available on the market, and very promising outcomes are observed when applying organic acids via the drinking water. Since some organic acids are not easy to get solubilized into water, you need dedicated formulations supported by specific emulsification technologies which enhance user convenience, efficacy and flexibility. Some convenient concepts are available on the market – such as for example Eubisol – and are applied in a 1:10 dilution ratio with water, followed by 1/1000 dilution via Dosatron. For the Eubisol case, farmers witnessed a significant decrease of use of antibiotics by 36%, and especially against Streptococcus by 60%. Farmers across the globe are very satisfied with water based solutions as witnessed in the video.

Acidification of drinking water: why and how?

In pigs and poultry, acidification of the drinking water can be a very effective tool to prevent or lower the need for antibiotics. Acidification can have multiple beneficial effects, such as improved palatability and thus water intake, improved digestion, prebiotic effect and reduction of pathogens (e.g., Salmonella). Each type of acid or acid mixture has its own specific properties. Moreover, disinfection products or other compounds present in the water can interfere or react with acids. In some cases, organic acids can cause slime formation due to growth of yeasts and fungi. Always consult your vet/advisor to discuss which acid (mixture) suits your drinking water system and water quality best. Once a suitable acid (mixture) is chosen, the correct dosage is the key to success.

How to determine the correct dosage:

1. Fill a bucket with 10l of the water to be tested.
2. Put on safety glasses and acid resistant gloves.
3. Take a disposable syringe of 10 or 20 ml and fill it with the acid (mixture) to be tested.
4. Add 5 ml of the acid (mixture) to the water and measure the pH with a pH strip or pH meter (both for sale at the pharmacy). Repeat this step until you reach the desired pH (typically around pH 4; discuss this with your vet/advisor)
5. Write down how much acid (mixture) you added to the water (= ‘x’ ml)
6. Calculate the dosage:
x millilitre of acid added to 10 litres of water =>
DOSAGE = x/10 litre of acid per 1000 litre of water
7. Repeat this procedure every time the water source or type of acid (mixture) is changed

How to take a good water sample for lab analysis?

1. Take a bottle that is as clean as possible and rinse it several times with the water to be analysed. A number of labs also have receptacles available.
2. Wash your hands thoroughly.
3. For a sample directly from a reservoir you take a mixed sample of different subsamples. You should preferably scoop these subsamples about 30 cm below the water surface. After good mixing, the receptacle can be filled.
4. Follow the following procedure for a sample from a tap:
– To know the quality of the starting water (the source), choose a tap as close to the source as possible.
– To check the quality at the drinking points, take a sample from a tap that is as far from the source as possible.
5. Clean the tap well, preferably also with an alcohol tissue.
6. If you want to know the quality of the starting water (the source), let the tap run for some minutes. To detect problems with biofilm formation in the pipes or to check if a disinfectant works effectively, let it run only for a short time.
7. Fill the receptacle for bacteriology first, then the receptacle for chemical parameters.
8. It is important that the samples reach the lab as soon as possible. If this is not possible, make sure that the samples are kept cool (refrigerated) for storage and transportation.

Biosecurity measures in Pig Farms

Biosecurity is ensured on a pig farm by implementing a set of organizational and technical measures in order to prevent the introduction, persistence and spread of pathogens, as well as to protect animal and public health.
The main objective of implementing these measures is to reduce the risk of introducing and spreading diseases to, from or within:
• an animal population
• a unit, area, compartment, means of transport or any other facilities, premises or locations;

The key objectives of a biosecurity plan:

1. preventing the penetration of pathogens (exclusion of pathogens or external biosecurity)
2. reducing the penetration / spread of pathogens already existing among animals or other sections of the farm (biomanagement or internal biosecurity).
3. preventing the penetration / spread of pathogens existing in the farm to other non-infected farms / animals (e.g. biocontamination).
4. minimizing the incidence and spread of infections that impact the health of the population.

Biosecurity measures

I. Ensuring the farm perimeter:
II. The existence, operation and proper maintenance of the veterinary sanitary filter:
III. The proper maintenance of the facilities used for housing, feeding and watering animals;
IV. Feed supply;
V. Transporting live animals to and from the farm:
VI. Code of good practice and good hygiene practice
VII. Adhering to the technological principle “all-in, all-out” at the compartment/pen level.

Drinking water medication: beware of interference

Medication should never replace good management, but sometimes a treatment is unavoidable. In poultry and pigs, medication is often administered via the drinking water. The water quality largely determines how successful the administration will be. The water composition influences the solubility and biological availability of the medication and can even have an influence on the efficacy. Hardness, pH, iron and cadmium levels are some important parameters that can interfere with the medication. This counts for medicines in general, but is of particular importance for antibiotics because partial inactivation of the antibiotic can cause antibiotic resistance. The following should be kept in mind when using antibiotic water medication:

Ampicillin/amoxicillin need a neutral to basic pH to dissolve well. They are sensitive to temperature swings and to the enzyme ‘beta lactamase’ that can be produced be bacteria present in the drinking water system (biofilm!).

Tetracycline’s are poorly soluble. Calcium in hard water forms complexes with tetracycline’s. These complexes are poorly absorbed in the digestive tract. Acidification of the water can improve the solubility as well as the absorption.

Sulphonamides can be captured by organic substances.

Most antibiotics are unstable in solution (e.g. amoxicillin solution: shelf life 6h). They should be administered in an appropriate volume of water so that the animals drink everything in time.

These examples illustrate the importance of water quality when administering antibiotics. For each specific antibiotic treatment via the water, the compatibility of the antibiotic with the drinking water (and water treatment products!) should be discussed with the advising veterinarian.

Methods to reduce iron and manganese levels at the drinking water source

Besides hardness, iron is also an important cause of problems in the drinking water system. The danger doesn’t lie within the iron itself but in the unpleasant side-effects of its presence. Iron excess gives rise to discoloration of the water, scaling, pipe or nipple blockings, metal taste, promotion of biofilm etc. This affects animal health and can therefore indirectly increase antibiotic use. Manganese excess often comes along with iron excess and causes similar problems. Luckily there are several techniques to remove iron and manganese at the drinking water source:

De-ironing: This is an automatic technique that consists of two steps. 1) By aerating, the soluble iron (Fe2+) precipitates and becomes insoluble (Fe3+). These iron particles are then filtered out with a (sand) filter. Different variants of this technique are available, e.g., with an underground installation. The functioning of the system should be monitored regularly.

Ion exchange: a cation exchanger removes iron and manganese as well as calcium and magnesium from the water by exchanging them for sodium. This happens in column with a resin medium. Removing calcium and magnesium softens the water. This is an automatic technique but periodically, the resin medium needs to be regenerated.

Sedimentation basin: only works for moderate iron/manganese excess. The water flows slowly through an open basin. By periodically aerating the basin, iron and manganese precipitate and sink to the bottom, just as other suspended particles. This results in clear water.

Zeolite filter: zeolite is a rock that can be used as ion exchanger (same principle as above) or as filter. In the latter case, three steps are performed (filtration, regeneration, washing) to remove iron and manganese.

Prevention of (blue-green) algae in drinking water sources

Algae and blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria) typically cause problems in summertime: they thrive in stagnant or slow flowing warm water with high levels of nutrients that is exposed to sunlight. Algae can make the water pH rise or cause blockages in the piping. But especially blue-green algae are a threat to animal health. When the layer of blooming algae starts to decompose, toxic substances are released. These toxins can cause a wide range of health problems, from mild to lethal. Consequently blue-green algae can indirectly promote unnecessary use of antibiotics.

Once algae have started to bloom, there is no way back. Prevention is the key to cope with algae. When drinking water supplies are stored in a basin, different techniques can be used to prevent algae growth.

Light shielding: this is the most efficient method as algae cannot survive without light. The water surface can be protected from light with a (floating) sail or if this is not possible, floating balls/hexagons. A regular check-up of the shielding is strongly recommended.

Aerating/stirring the water: This inhibits algae growth by increasing the oxygen levels in the water (aerating) and creating water flow (stirring).

Ultrasonic sound waves higher than 20kHz are an effective method to kill present algae and prevent their growth.

Certain water plants prevent algae growth by production of substances that prevent or slow down algae growth. Other plants compete with the algae for nutrients in the water, thus inhibiting algae growth.

Why and how to prevent biofilm formation in drinking water pipes

A biofilm is a slimy layer sticking to the inside wall of the drinking water pipe that is created by the growth of microorganisms on mineral deposits or organic material. When the biofilm loosens or bacteria are released from it, problems such as reduced production, disease, decomposition / scavenging of water additives and a reduction in the effectiveness of medication can arise. Due to the presence of biofilm in the pipes, the bacterial pressure can rise incredibly between the water source and the drinking point! Moreover, biofilms can promote the development of antibiotic resistance. It’s important to focus on prevention of biofilm. Indeed, besides a poor bacteriological quality of the drinking water, biofilm can cause other problems such as blockage but also corrosion of the pipes. Furthermore, thick and tenacious biofilms will require high doses of strong biocides. This increases the risk of health problems due to biocide residues in the water. One hundred percent prevention is often not possible, but several measures can significantly slow down biofilm formation.

The piping material: polyethylene pipes are prone to biofilm formation whereas copper piping is less sensitive.

Bacteria love stagnant (warm) water: avoid dead ends in the piping and assure a good flow at all times.

Iron and manganese in the water promote biofilm formation. Check the DISARM best practice guide for water quality for methods to remove iron and manganese.

Regularly clean the pipes (see also DISARM best practice guide for water quality)

Some water treatments / additives (e.g., butyrate, acetic acid) can contribute significantly to the formation of biofilm or slime formation, depending on the water source.