In November, farmers and vets across the continent will convene at the world’s leading livestock fair EuroTier in Hanover, Germany, and bpt vet congress – a conference dedicated to veterinary practice issues. And, more than ever, they will be looking for solutions and guidance on where the sector is going.
While the debate on whether we need drastic changes in livestock husbandry is not a new one, it has reached new levels in Germany and other European countries since EuroTier last took place two years ago. Add the slump in prices for milk, meat and other agricultural products and you will know why many farmers are asking themselves whether the hard work is still worth it.
The same is true for many vets who feel their efforts and dedication are rarely appreciated. Making matters worse, many vets in countries like Germany, Denmark or The Netherlands – where strict state antimicrobial monitoring systems are in place – feel they have lost influence over the decision of the best possible treatment.
The question both groups are asking is how to be seen by society as part of the solution and not the problem. To achieve this, they would probably need to produce more with less resources, increase animal health and welfare, use less curative antibiotics and still provide milk, meat and eggs at low prices.
We all know there is no silver bullet to achieve this all at once – especially if prices barely cover production costs - but the individual tools to make headway do exist. Many will be presented and discussed at EuroTier, including better husbandry and new equipment for barns, improved feed-rations and new feed additives like enzymes to improve intestinal health and the feed conversion rate, new precision livestock farming technology, as well as animal health innovations ranging from vaccines to immuno-modulators.
Critics may remark there will be a charge for some of these innovations; indeed, certain solutions have their price. Others though, are knowledge-based and some solutions will also save costs after initial investments. Most importantly, all of them will certainly lead to the path that society wants agriculture to go.
With hundreds of exhibitors and dozens of informative events and discussions, the EuroTier event may provide some of the guidance the livestock sector is seeking. If you want to participate in the online discussion, you can use #EuroTier.
EuroTier will take place at Hanover Exhibition from 15th to 18th November.
Image: Putting the Puzzle together by Ken Teegardin licensed under Creative Commons