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Development and daily management of an explicit strategy of nonuse of antimicrobial drugs in twelve Danish organic dairy herds

Development and daily management of an explicit strategy of nonuse of antimicrobial drugs in twelve Danish organic dairy herds

Journal of Dairy Science 89(5): 1842-1853

ISSN/ISBN: 0022-0302

PMID: 16606756

DOI: 10.3168/jds.s0022-0302(06)72253-6

Promotion of animal health and well-being at the individual animal and herd level is an important goal in organic farming. At the same time, chemical products affecting the natural balance among living organisms are prohibited in all areas of the organic farm. From an animal welfare point of view, however, no animal must suffer. Therefore, veterinary drugs are allowed under the European Union's regulations for organic farming, despite the fact that they are powerful cell toxins affecting both pathogenic and necessary bacteria, and as such in organic terminology, are regarded as "chemical" or "artificial" products. In this article, we present and discuss interviews with 12 Danish organic dairy producers who claim that minimized use or nonuse of antimicrobial drugs is an explicit goal. The dairy producers were at different levels with regard to reduced antimicrobial treatment. An explicit strategy of no antimicrobial treatments is based primarily on a long-term effort to improve herd health, and secondarily, on finding alternative treatments for diseased animals. Improved hygiene, outdoor access, use of nursing cows, and blinding of chronic mastitis quarters were the main techniques in developing a strategy of not using antimicrobial treatments in the herd by dairy producers. Producers' perception of disease changed from something unavoidable to a disturbing break in the daily rhythm that often could have been avoided. Change toward a nonantimicrobial strategy was gradual and stepwise. All dairy producers in this study desired to preserve the possibility of using antimicrobial drugs in emergencies.

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