The use of antibiotics in veal calves

In recent years use of antibiotics in consumer animals is criticised ever more because of the possible role it plays in the development of resistant bacteria in humans. Antibiotics are frequently being strategically deployed to prevent disease, especially in intensive sectors like industrial poultry, pork and veal calves. A major epidemiological study in cooperation with Animal Welfare Flanders studied use of antibiotics in veal calves. Besides this, the causes for disease and mortality were mapped. The resulting phd-thesis confirmed that the use of antibiotics in the veal calves sector between 2007 and 2010 was indeed excessively high and that the most important indication for the use of antibiotics were infectious diseases of the respiratory organs. This information helped identify various management measures that could help the sector to decrease the use of antibiotics at short notice without decreasing animal welfare or production. In follow up projects various preventive measures and therapeutic protocols will be tested in order to help the Flemish veal calves farming to evolve towards a more sustainable production method with less antibiotics.