THE ANTIBIOTIC FREE MOVEMENT Enhancing the nutritional value of feed by Eloise Hillier-Richardson, Milling and Grain In June this year Darren Parris and I visited Novus in St Charles, Missouri, to celebrate their 25-year anniversary. Among the revelries (including a personal highlight of a Cardinals baseball match) we were invited to some insightful talks at the Novus Media Jam. One of these talks specifically concerned the Antibiotic Free Movement or ABF, where the ‘sub-therapeutic’ use of antibiotics and the many alternatives Novus offer were discussed.
he use of antibiotics in animal feed was first approved in 1950 after it was proven that they were effective in reducing mortality and morbidity, increasing feed utilisation, and encouraging an increased growth rate. Now, many experts are expressing concerns that the ‘sub-therapeutic’ use of antibiotics, as opposed to therapeutic or disease treating uses, is having an adverse effect on the animals and are further reporting the development of antimicrobial resistant bacteria - a state of affairs which ‘ultimately compromises treatment of human bacterial infections’ (LM Gersema et al). The Antibiotic Free Panel included Dr Mercedes VazquezAnon, Senior Director of Animal Nutrition and Facilities at Novus, Dr Nasser Odetallah, Executive Manager for Global Technology Services at Novus and Dr Bob Buresh, Technical Manager of Poultry for North America at Novus. Amassing an impressive 70 plus years in the animal feed industry, this panel of experts offered an abundance of knowledge on the movement away from antibiotics, and outlined Novus’ role. All three panelists agreed that the movement away from antibiotics would not be easy for many customers, citing cost and psychological aspects - ie. the understanding that sub-therapeutic antibiotic use is almost guaranteed to prevent disease whereas less is known about the alternatives - as major aspects in the reluctance to move towards an antibiotic free future. As a result, Novus’ approach to create a culture of feed that is less reliant on the use of antibiotics, they knew, would have to centre upon the customer and their needs.
“Everything is focused around customers”
Customer focus is central to Novus’ ‘Triple S bottom line’ approach Solution, Service and Sustainability. “Our customers are currently faced with the growing challenge of
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considering the implementation of the production of their animals with reduced or removed antibiotics,” said Dr Buresh. “Each customer, even each individual production unit, will experience different challenges – we’ve got to help them adapt to that.” He went on to say that the challenges faced by a Chicken Producer in North Carolina will be different from those faced by a Producer in Missouri, which will again be different from one in Texas. Therefore, there was an obvious need to tailor alternatives for antibiotics to each individual’s requirements. Reinforcing this emphasis on customer service, Dr Odetallah broached the discussion from a more global perspective, acknowledging that the concept of sub-therapeutic antibiotic use and the ABF movement is an issue not only in the United States of America, but must be addressed across the globe, pointing out that issues which customers face in America are just an example of what Novus expect to find in other parts of the world. “Dealing with the customers is important”, he said. “We [at Novus] have really worked first hand with the customers; we have done a lot of work with them just to show the importance of the solutions to solve such problems.” He stressed the importance of dealing with customers on a “face to face” basis, saying they have already sat down with producers “in a couple of countries around the world.
The antibiotic free panel; left to right - Dr Nasser Odetallah, Dr Mercedes Vazquez-Anon and Dr Bob Buresh