Breeding. A model to diagnose cattle earlier and resort to antibiotics less

During the fattening of cattle, respiratory diseases are the main reason for the use of antibiotics. “These disorders are detected by the breeder based on clinical signs several days after infection, explains Marlène Guiadeur, project manager in ruminant health and well-being at the Institut de l’Elevage. We therefore sought to model their development using earlier indicators. “ The trials were carried out at the Établières experimental farm, in Vendée, in collaboration with the veterinary schools of Nantes and Toulouse. The first results were recently presented to the Tech’Elevage exhibition, in La Roche-sur-Yon (Vendée).

A gain of twenty-four hours

For two consecutive years, around fifty young Charolais under one year old, unvaccinated, were fitted with collars and pedometers to monitor the time spent on food, rumination, rest, etc. A bolus measuring the temperature was placed in their stomach, more precisely in their rumen. All the measurements taken (sensors and observations) during the first month of fattening, when they are the most vulnerable, served as a basis for the construction of a mathematical model. “With this tool, we identify 75% of infected animals twenty-four hours before the appearance of clinical signs”, indicates Marlène Guiadeur.

Vaccination limits severity

The challenge now is to use this information in a strategy that uses less antibiotics. For example, by ensuring early treatment of patients before the spread of viruses or bacteria which obliges the breeder to treat the whole batch. “You have to combine solutions, considers Marlène Guiadeur. Although not widely used, vaccination also limits the incidence and severity of respiratory disorders. As for the transport and mixtures of animal origins between fattening and fattening farms, with the stress generated, they increase the health risk. “


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