In recent years, the VanDrie chain has made substantial investments in animal health management. This has resulted in a significant reduction in antibiotic use. A glance at the 2019 figures allows us to conclude that we are at historically low usage. Albert Wouters, head of calf husbandry, says, not without pride: “Our veal farmers, together with the veterinarians and our regional managers, have truly achieved something rather special. We achieved a 61.4% decrease in antibiotics in 2019 compared to 2007.”
The reduction in use seen is taking place across the Dutch calf sector, according to figures from the SDa, the Netherlands Veterinary Medicines Authority - an independent institute that establishes indicators for the responsible use of antibiotics in animal husbandry. In a recently published report, the SDa indicates that a decrease in antibiotic use of 22% over the past five years has been observed in calves across the Netherlands, half of which was achieved in 2019 alone.
Asked why 2019 in particular saw such a large jump, Albert explains: “We sought out cooperation with Dutch dairy farms in recent years. We include calves in our chain that the dairy farmer cannot use on his or her own farm. A good start, in combination with a sufficiently long stay on the dairy farm, ensures that calves quickly become resilient, and are ideal for veal farming”. Albert continues: “That interdependence is becoming increasingly clear and significant improvements have been made in this area. We have also seen the positive effect of the approach to animal diseases such as BVD and IBR on dairy farming. The strong improvement of the health of Dutch calves is excellent news for both dairy and veal farming”.
Our veal farmers, together with the veterinarians and our regional managers, have truly achieved something rather special. We achieved a 61.4% decrease in antibiotics in 2019 compared to 2007. - Albert Wouters
Despite the good results, the VanDrie Group continues to have great ambitions to further improve the results. There is, however, a limit to this, points out Albert Wouters: “Leaving sick animals untreated is not an option. It’s a violation of the animal's welfare. Going entirely antibiotic-free is therefore impossible”. One of our goals is to achieve a further 15% sectoral reduction in antibiotics by 2022 compared to 2017. “It will be a challenge, but with the knowledge and care of dairy farmers, veal farmers, regional managers and veterinarians, we should be able to achieve this in a responsible manner.”