The potential for vaccination to help reduce the use of antibiotics has been explored in a white paper produced by MSD Animal Health.
The document, ‘time to vaccinate – looking beyond antibiotics’, suggests vaccination rates in the cattle, sheep and pig sectors remain low.
The penetration rate for vaccination against both infectious bovine rhinotrachetis (IBR) in cattle and toxoplasmosis in sheep currently sits at around 22 per cent according to MSD’s own data and Defra statistics. In pigs, vaccination for Glasser’s disease is around 26 per cent.
The paper aims to help lift those rates to protect animal health and welfare, as the industry reduces its antibiotic use, and moves to a more preventative approach on farm.
Dr Paul Williams, from MSD Animal Health, says to ensure antibiotic usage targets are reached without compromising animal welfare, and in turn productivity, there must be a focus on disease prevention rather than treatment.
“The success of vaccination in preventing disease has significant potential to reduce antibiotic use, as has already been well demonstrated in the pig, poultry and aquaculture industries. With low penetration rates in the other livestock sectors at the moment, we hope the ‘time to vaccinate’ initiative helps farmers and their vets make informed decisions about vaccination as part of their overall animal health plans.”