Europe and China join forces for healthy livestock

Published on
October 23, 2018

Experts and scientists from the European Union and China will work together in the EU – Chinese research project HealthyLivestock to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In the project more than 20 partners (from academia, research institutes, private partners and companies) join forces for a better health and welfare of pigs and poultry.

Infectious diseases are the most common diseases in the world. In severe cases such disease can be very serious and life-threatening. Medicines against these diseases, called antimicrobials, are one of the most valuable inventions in the history of human and animal medicine. However, every antimicrobial use inevitably promotes the emergence of defense mechanisms by the disease agent. Bacteria will become resistant to the treatment, making the once so valuable antimicrobial worthless.

Tackle antimicrobial resistance at its roots

In livestock production systems animals are more than often held under sub-optimal conditions. Moreover, efforts to maximize production put further pressure on the animals’ immune system, making the animals more susceptible to infections. Finally this may result in situations where-in the animals get sick and have to be treated with antimicrobials, with an enhanced risk for the emergence of AMR.

HealthyLivestock wants to tackle antimicrobial resistance at its roots. Through a multidisciplinary approach it is targeting at:

  • a reduction of the risk for animals to get exposed to disease agents;
  • an increased resilience of the animals towards disease challenges;
  • an early detection of health problems and specific diseases;
  • and if antimicrobials are needed, a more precise use or alternatives.

Tools to help farmers

Special tools to help farmers will be developed. The outcome of HealthyLivestock research will be conveyed to all relevant parties: to farmers and veterinarians on the farm, but also to animal welfare organisations, politicians and decision makers, companies, etc.

HealthyLivestock is coordinated by Wageningen Research. The project will last four years. The European part is funded by the European Commission. The Chinese part is funded by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.