Resistance to antibiotics, and to antimicrobials in general, can drastically reduce the effectiveness of treatments against pathogens—which affects both animals and humans—and is a real public health issue.
The World Health Organisation launched an action plan in 2015 to tackle the adverse effect caused by an extensive use of antimicrobials and raise awareness in the livestock farming sector. In low- and middle-income countries like Vietnam, local communities rely heavily on small-scale family chicken farming. This activity is however known for its extensive use of antimicrobials, which are also administered to healthy chickens.
Changing habits over time: convince rather than coerce
To address the challenge, Phileo by Lesaffre decided to conduct an intervention study in partnership with ViPARC (the “Vietnamese Platform for Antimicrobial Reduction in Chicken production”) targeting small-scale chicken farms in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. The initiative was carried out in an attempt to raise awareness on alternatives to antimicrobials. The aim was to encourage farmers to be more responsible by inviting them to take part in a training programme of six workshops and providing them with a tailor-made veterinary support service. The programme’s key message was “Healthy chickens should not be given any antimicrobials” and the trial offered farmers the chance to use Safmannan®, a yeast fraction developed by Phileo.
Improving health through nutrition
Adding Safmannan® to food would help to improve the gut function of animals and make them more resilient to pathogens and environmental stressors. The positive effects of Safmannan® have been demonstrated in many species, in partnership with renowned independent research institutes.
The preventive approach of the plan to reduce antimicrobial usage in Vietnam has yielded exciting results. The data collected between October 2016 and November 2019 has shown that antimicrobial use reduced by 66%. The results have also suggested a positive effect on animal health — reducing mortality by 40% in the farms enrolled in the intervention study.
A success all the more significant given that the recruited farmers were mainly raising slow-growing chicken breeds (growth of more than four years). Sustained efforts had to be made to prevent diseases over this long period of time. The nutritional solution plus the upskilling of farmers can secure the stability of farm income and the long-term sustainability of local production.