Some of the biggest challenges facing national animal health currently is around antibiotic resistance and the ever-increasing demands when it comes to animal welfare.

Irish livestock farming generally has low antibiotic usage and a strong reputation for animal welfare.

However, it is still important to write about ways of tackling these two issues and, more importantly, to show farmers practical ways to deal with these challenges.

New legislation coming from Europe in January 2022 will lead to a lot of changes when it comes to antibiotic usage on farms.

Restrictions around which antibiotics are allowed and how they are used will be a major focus of the legislation.

There will be a big push to remove critically important antibiotics completely from Irish farms.

These antibiotics are common in human medicine and examples of some of these products (trade names) used in farming include:

  • Cevaxel.
  • Curacef.
  • Eficur.
  • Excenel.
  • Naxcel.
  • Cephaguard.
  • Cobactan.
  • Baytril.
  • Doraflox.
  • Enrobactin.
  • Enrocare.
  • Enrodexil.
  • Enrofloxacin.
  • Forcyl.
  • Kelacyl.
  • Marbim.
  • Marbocare.
  • Marbocyl.
  • There will also be changes to how antibiotics can be used, particularly around group treatments to prevent disease.

    This is often termed as prophylaxis – where animals will often receive antibiotics to prevent or avert the risk of getting infections.

    Examples of this include:

  • Lambs receiving antibiotics at birth to prevent watery mouth.
  • All dairy cows receiving a long-acting antibiotic at drying off.
  • Bought-in store cattle all receiving an antibiotic to prevent pneumonia infections.
  • Engage

    The Engage pilot programme is being launched by the Irish Farmers Journal and XLVets Ireland.

    It will be based around a number of routine veterinary visits.

    These visits look at a farm's risk areas when it comes housing, management, nutrition and disease.

    The vets will identify some risk areas and make recommendations.

    Each subsequent visit will review the changes and how they are impacting antibiotic usage and disease incidence.

    The aim of this pilot programme is to show farmers the practical realities around how you can improve animal health and reduce antibiotic usage and its impact on animal welfare.

    Stay tuned to and the print edition of the Irish Farmers Journal for regular updates on the Engage programme.