New biosecurity app helps lower farm disease risk

Sunday 19th June 2022 6:00 am
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Gower farmer, Dan Pritchard (left) is trialling the Biosecurity App with his vet Ifan Lloyd

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Trials have started on a system to help farmers in Wales identify and resolve weak spots in their biosecurity, and so reduce the need for antibiotics.

Featuring the piloting of a Biosecurity App, the trials are part of Arwain DGC – a project designed to help combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animals and the environment in Wales.

Developed by Cefn Gwlad Solutions Ltd in consultation with vets, the app’s trials are being organised by Arwain DGC veterinary delivery partner Iechyd Da. 

Working with farmers, vets will carry out a simple risk-based analysis of a farm’s biosecurity. The easy-to-use Biosecurity App will help identify the major weak spots in the farm’s biosecurity measures and enable the vet to give practical advice on improvements. Any changes made will then be reviewed with the farmer during a follow-up visit later in the year.

Gower vet Ifan Lloyd, one of the vets involved in developing the tool, said, “We’re looking forward to trialling the use of the biosecurity risk assessment App. We have designed a series of questions that will enable the farmer and vet to make an objective assessment by applying a score to each of the risks.

“This will generate an overall risk score while also permitting the farmer and vet to measure improvements in biosecurity as a result of implementing any agreed actions that must be practical, achievable and cost-effective.”

Robert Smith of Iechyd Da said, “By leading on this innovative trial, Iechyd Da hopes to develop a simple and practical means of assessing a farm’s biosecurity risk using handheld technology. The app works by highlighting to the farmer where their biggest biosecurity risks are.

“By using the scoring system, vets can then advise the farmer about the best measures to reduce infectious disease transmission onto their livestock unit.  In reducing disease spread between farms, the stock will be healthier, more productive and fewer antibiotics will need to be used.”

Seven veterinary practices are set to pilot the Biosecurity App on 20 Welsh dairy, beef, and sheep farms.

Gower sheep farmer Dan Pritchard, who farms at Weobley Castle Farm in Llanrhidian, is among the first to take part in the trial, and is working with his vet Ifan Lloyd.

He said, “Being able to identify, and then rectify, biosecurity weak spots are something we are very keen to do as it will help lower the risk of infectious diseases being brought on and off the farm. 

“We have just started using the Biosecurity App with our vet, and it has been a quick and easy process. I look forward to seeing the results and working with our vet to reduce the need to use antibiotics.”

Also, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) will be discussed by vets at next week’s Vets Cymru conference (June 17th & 18th).

Held in Aberystwyth, the two-day conference will feature four sessions on AMR-related topics:

Learning from human health antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) endeavours.

Promoting effective AMS in Welsh veterinary practice.

One Health in Wales.

Balancing AMS with the practicalities of veterinary business.

Arwain DGC is closely aligned to the Welsh Government’s five-year AMR in Animals and the Environment Implementation Plan (2019 – 2024). This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

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