Nature as an animal-friendly alternative to antibiotics

A single cow produces every day approximately 100 kilograms of urine and faecal waste. Any residues of antibiotics that were administered to sick cattle will end up either directly or indirectly  in the natural environment: in fields, ditches, stables, waste storage and sewage. And as a possible consequence, eventually also in milk, food and surface water. It is not only animals that are becoming ‘contaminated by nature’ while they are eating and drinking, but also increasingly over time so are people. Biochem Products from Enter, Twente (eastern Netherlands) is doing something tangible and entirely natural to combat the negative effects of contaminated livestock – anything in fact to ensure that neither human nor animal health issues resulting from contaminated food lead to real problems, such as unforeseen resistance to antibiotics precisely at the moment when doctors or veterinarians are having to use this medicine to save lives.

To produce a tender rump steak weighing 150 grams, a beef cow will have eaten one kilogram of feed and almost 2,500 litres of water will have been used. This then raises the question of how clean that water still is. The current dairy and meat cattle farm increasingly requires sustainable products that first and foremost contribute to improved animal health, and as a result eventually also to higher productivity for milk and meat. Simply making animal welfare a primary consideration will also positively affect the welfare of people, both directly and indirectly.

Bio-based solutions

Animal health specialist Biochem Products develops and manufactures bio-based solutions, which help improve animal health and productivity in a responsible way. Essential  oils, plant extracts and natural vitamins form the sustainable basis of these products. Fermented garlic, oregano and numerous other natural ingredients help prevent the livestock from becoming unhealthy, for example as a result of inflammation of parts of the body such as the udders, airways and hooves. Just as with people, healthy intestinal flora are essential to the general health of the animal. After all, a healthy cow will produce more milk or better quality meat than a sick one. Moreover a farmer who consciously grows organic food will, if he has sick animals, no longer be entitled to use that organic designation if an antibiotic had to be used in order to help the animals recover. This too leads to loss of productivity.

Natural healthy livestock

Cattle, calves, pigs, goats, sheep and poultry: Biochem has natural medicines for virtually every type of livestock, in a range consisting of boluses, liquids, powders and tablets. The dosage is simple. Boluses are ‘time release’ and produce their medicinal effect over a longer period of time. The release period is between one and 180 days, depending on the type of animal, the type of disease and the number of animal stomachs. Examples of diseases and conditions found in livestock include: abcesses, inflammation of the uterus, poultry red mite, coccidiosis, diarrhea, a high somatic cell count, ketosis, diseases of the airways, lethargy, acute mastitis, milk fever, mortellaro, negative energy balance, stress, foot rot, udder inflammation, reduced resistance and worms.

Positive effects

The general physical condition of the cattle improves through the use of these natural animal medicines, such as a reduced blood fat level, more antioxidants in the liver, improved absorption of nutrients, an activated immune system, generally enhanced resistance, improved metabolism, greater resistance to disease, better fertility, increased milk yield, higher unsaturated milk fatty acids, improved levels of protein and fat, strengthened antibacterial intestinal function, improved alimentary canal, controlled causes of diarrhea, dislodged parasites and bacteria, improved animal growth, antimicrobial and oxidative effects, healthy intestinal flora and healthy nutrition for their young, generally reduced stress, more antibodies, a positive energy balance, supported fermentation in the rumen. In brief, too many pro-biotic effects to mention them all. Healthy intestinal flora in cows may also help to reduce methane emissions, which are harmful to the climate, so that cows emit fewer polluting  gases.

Sustainable impact on people and nature

Numerous positive effects help Biochem Products to achieve the sustainable goals of the United Nations both directly and indirectly. These are not only goal 15 (Life on land)  and goal 14 (Life below water) but there is also an additional impact on other, related goals, like 6 (Clean water and sanitation) and 3 (Good human health and wellbeing). Above all, this animal- and people-friendly approach helps to bring about responsible consumption and production (sustainable goal number 12).

Specifically, Biochem Products offers a bio-based, vegetable, natural and sustainable alternative to synthetic animal medicines. This ensures that the health of the livestock increases, that the animals have a longer life expectancy and produce healthier offspring, and the animals make healthier food and drink for their own species and for humans.

Certification of animal medicines

All the raw materials that Biochem uses originate in Europe and thus satisfy the specifications of the applicable European laws and regulations. The sustainable solutions from Biochem are regularly analysed by accredited laboratories: the company has, for example been in possession of the ‘GMP Plus’ certificate for many years. This international quality standard for ‘Good Manufacturing Process’ means that the way in which a Biochem product is composed is recorded from A to Z and is produced in Enter.  The ‘Plus’ stands for the addition of the HACCP standard to the GMP standard. This relates to a risk inventory for foodstuffs and forms a welcome addition to the quality standard that guarantees the quality and safety of animal feed.

International network

At the same time Biochem Products continues to invest in the future. Through collaboration with knowledge institutes, including the University of Wageningen, and innovation centres – such as Advanced Materials Manufacturing Oost-Nederland (AMMON) in Twente – this innovative company is able to make improvements and innovations in both sustainable products and high-grade production processes. In an international context Biochem contributes to the spread of knowledge and experience. As an active member of the Natural Livestock Farming Foundation, it works in collaboration with farmers, veterinarians and scientists from the Netherlands, India, Uganda and Ethiopia. Exchange of know-how on the use of herbs in dairy farming plays a central role in this. This foundation is also supported by Oxfam Novib.

Sold frequently and often inappropriately on every street corner

In 2015 Arie Boorsma, director/owner of Biochem Products in Enter (NL), took part in an exchange with India and was a guest of the Institute of Ayurvedic and Integrated medicine (I-AIM) in Bangalore for a week. Arie Boorsma looks back on his stay: ‘I found my visit to southern India initially a culture shock: the differences between Dutch and Indian dairy farmers are immense. The farmers there are usually women and they have on average no more than one or two cows. But because there are so many Indians, this involves massive numbers of livestock across the nation. The use of antibiotics in India is also massive. These medicines can be bought on any street corner and are used very frequently and often inappropriately. Apparently the percentage of antibiotics found in baby milk in India is as high as 30 percent. This is bad news for the health of Indian children in the future, because if later in their lives they become very ill, certain antibiotics may, as a result of resistance, no longer perform their healing work, with potentially serious  consequences. Clean milk is thus crucial for public health’.

Medicinal plants and extracts

The I-AIM Institute in the Indian city of Bangalore is inventorying and studying medicinal plants, combing the age-old Ayurvedic health system with modern medical science. I-AIM is working closely with Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Science University (TANUVAS). Arie Boorsma explains: ‘In this part of India there is a great deal of knowledge available, but turning this into practice is still not yet occurring sufficiently. I am, however, supported in my firm conviction that Biochem Products is indeed on the right track. The healing properties of, for example turmeric, aloe vera and garlic have been accepted in India for centuries. In our innovative animal health products we also use these herbs and achieve excellent results with them’.

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