With more pressure on livestock farmers to reduce antibiotics, the ENAJ trip to Germany in April provided a welcome introduction to some forward-thinking young farmers doing exactly that, writes Guild Member Chris McCullough.
Organised by VDAJ – the German Guild of Agricultural Journalists – the three day tour starting around Kleve was long enough to pack in a few visits to farms in both Germany and neighbouring Netherlands, together with visits to a research farm, various laboratories and MSD Animal Health HQ.
Tour participants were introduced to a number of scientists and researchers who are working tirelessly to develop new products and procedures that can help farmers reduce their use of antibiotics.
A major part of this is to change the mindset of farmers from blanket treatments of mastitis, for example, to more preventative measures and subsequently only treating problematic udder quarters.
While the science and research is interesting, for me as a journalist the real stories come from the farmers themselves and the two visited were real good progressive farms with very passionate people working there.
Barendonk Holsteins situated at Beers in the east of the Netherlands was a good example of a young farmer – Ivo Hermanussen pictued above with father Jan – taking the reins and improving the herd health in line with market demands and EU ‘red tape’.
We also visited Lima Holsteins, at Rees in the North Rhine Westphalia region of Germany, run by Markus Hubers (pictured above).
This is another young farmer who also strives to keep his herd young and disease free by structuring 89 per cent of it as second or third calvers.
Both farmers demonstrated their own programmes for reducing antibiotic use in cattle and the plans they have for the future of their own businesses.
All in all, this ENAJ trip was very suitable for me to gain information and photos that my editors were very pleased to use.
I must congratulate VDAJ for a well organised and simple tour which was in keeping with the ethos of ENAJ in providing low budget press tours.
I personally find these tours particularly useful as I get to report from both new and common places – but there is always a different story to tell.