Research to address antimicrobial resistance in cattle, swine

Studies include tracking antibiotic use across large-scale swine production systems, developing acoustic monitoring for BRD treatment.

December 4, 2023

3 Min Read
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The International Consortium for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Agriculture has awarded three grants totaling $377,503 to track antimicrobial usage and support better-informed antibiotic treatment for bacteria that cause diseases in swine and beef cattle.

The animal agriculture industry is committed to doing its part to lessen antimicrobial resistance and ensure antibiotics are effective for people and animals for decades to come. Strategies to reduce the need for antimicrobial usage in animal agriculture are being considered to combat this risk of AMR. However, banning all antibiotics would adversely impact animal health, welfare, performance and production, increasing food safety risks and economic losses. The industry needs to maintain the use of antimicrobials to control AMR and to make informed medical decisions.

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research awarded Kathryn Havas from Pipestone a $202,555 grant through ICASA to develop a protocol that tracks antibiotic use across large-scale commercial swine production systems and compares it in real-time with its respective on-farm antibiotic use. The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System is tracking ARM data at the level of the meat case, the harvest facility and across cases of human foodborne illness; however, no such effort exists at the level of the swine farm.

This project expands upon previous research, including data collection from participating swine farms and preliminary statistical analysis of antimicrobial use and resistance data. The research team continues to collect data across pathogens of food safety and veterinary significance from swine farms based on NARMS standards and relate this information with antibiotic usage data to produce measurable outcomes.

Pipestone’s research aims to enhance the marketability of pork, improve animal welfare and launch the United States swine industry to the forefront of AMR surveillance globally. Pipestone and the National Pork Board provided matching funds for a $405,111 investment.

Additionally, the livestock industry is plagued by bovine respiratory disease, an infectious condition that can spread through a herd and comprises an estimated 80% of antibiotic treatments. ICASA awarded Ergense Inc. and Kansas State University grants to improve understanding of BRD and reduce excess antibiotic usage.

FFAR awarded Thomas Darbonne from Ergense Inc. a $50,000 grant through ICASA to develop an acoustic monitoring technique to inform antibiotic treatment of cattle for BRD. The standard procedure for cattle arriving at a feedlot is to place each lot of cattle into a receiving pen for at least 24 hours to let them settle, and the livestock management workers decide whether the entire pen should receive antibiotic treatment based on various animal health factors.

To reduce treatment subjectivity, Darbonne is developing an audio monitoring technique that uses machine learning to analyze acoustic signatures of animal vocalizations to inform the BRD treatment decision. Cactus Research, Ergense, Five Rivers Cattle Feeding, McDonald’s Corporation and Veterinary Research & Consulting Services provided matching funds for a $104,128 investment.

FFAR awarded Natalia Cernicchiaro and David Renter from K-State a $124,948 grant through ICASA to improve understanding of how feedlot cattle are classified based on BRD risk. These researchers are gathering information from industry stakeholders on current practices and knowledge gaps related to whole-pen antibiotic metaphylaxis administration for BRD.

Additionally, Cernicchiaro and Renter are designing a survey of feedlot managers, veterinarians and other decision-makers to establish what information is used to classify BRD risk and animal treatment. These data can be used to comprehensively assess health risks and interventions, and as a result, optimize health management strategies for specific cattle populations. The outcomes of this research will improve animal management and well-being, give more accurate information about cattle health risks for BRD and encourage more efficient antimicrobial use.

K-State, Beef Marketing Research, Cactus Research, Five Rivers Cattle Feeding, Hy-Plains Feedyard, Innovative Livestock Services, Veterinary Research & Consulting Services and Zoetis provided matching funds for a $249,911 investment.

FFAR established ICASA in 2019 with an initial $7.5 million investment to fund research that promotes targeted antibiotic use, advances animal health and welfare and increases transparency in food production practices. The private sector is matching FFAR’s investment for a total $15 million investment in antibiotic stewardship research.

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