The use of antibiotics is strictly restricted in organic farming. Mastitis (inflammation of the udder) is one of the main reasons for antibiotic treatments. However, little is known about usage of antibiotics in organic dairy farms in Europe. An overview of the current use of and need for antibiotics in organic livestock production in the context of different livestock species and management schemes is therefore needed. To increase the health status of dairy herds, preventive herd health management measures were developed and successfully implemented in past projects.
RELACS aims to develop solutions for the replacement of antibiotics in organic livestock. RELACS will:
- Create an overview of the current use of and need for antibiotics in organic livestock production considering all disease complexes and livestock species. The amount of antibiotics used and the main indications for antibiotic use in organic agriculture in Europe will be estimated;
- Develop strategies to adapt and efficiently implement well-proven preventive herd health management measures to various conditions in Europe: As mastitis is the main cause for antibiotic use on organic farms, activities focus on mastitis, not excluding other disease complexes;
- Explore options for mastitis control using essential oils building on previous experience from farmers;
- Adapt strategies and validate them on farm: essential oils tested in vitro will be validated on farm in the UK, France and Spain;
- Perform socio-economic and environmental impact assessments: The socio-economic impact of Animal Health and Welfare Planning (AHWP) and essential oil-based strategies will be assessed.