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8 January 2021

Preventative care is critical to sustainable animal health systems

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Posted by Ramiro Cabral  | 08-JAN-2021

At Elanco, we strive every day to improve animal health. But as an industry we must embrace preventative health strategies if we’re to develop modern and sustainable production systems, writes Ramiro Cabral, Elanco Executive Vice President and President of International.

When we talk about sustainability in animal agriculture, good animal health and wellbeing sit right at the centre. Healthy animals waste fewer resources, need fewer antibiotics and they are more productive. As a result, the impact of healthy animals goes beyond the farm and helps strengthen the pillars of sustainability (environmental, economic, and social).

While treatment is vital in enabling a sick animal to recover, preventative measures and medicines can stop animals falling sick in the first place and contribute to future-proofing farming systems. Biosecurity, good animal husbandry, appropriate housing, and vaccines all play an important role.

At Elanco, we’re seeing successes with our key innovations in preventative care. Here are a few concrete examples of how they are contributing to healthier chickens, salmon and shrimp.

In poultry, coccidiosis is an intestinal disease that causes severe diarrhoea in chickens in all types of farming – indoor, outdoor, or organic and on small or large operations. It makes these animals more susceptible to other diseases, seriously impacting health and wellbeing. While good animal hygiene and biosecurity are critical to any coccidiosis control programme, we know that they alone will not stop the animal contracting the disease.

Coccidiostats, a feed additive, enables farmers to preserve the health of their flock by prohibiting the development of the parasite, thereby maintaining good intestinal health and animal wellbeing, and promoting more efficient production and contributing to environmental sustainability. In fact, a five per cent reduction in carbon footprint can be achieved by controlling coccidiosis in chickens. And studies have shown anticoccidial products can reduce the environmental impacts of large-scale broiler production by optimising feed usage and minimising manure output.1

Vaccination is proving highly effective in the world of aquaculture. Salmon and trout are at risk of contracting salmonid alphavirus, which causes pancreas disease (PD) and can quickly spread in water. Vaccination is an effective way to reduce mortality and severity of clinical PD, and in some cases has even been proven to reduce lesions on the heart, pancreas, and skeletal muscles. Meanwhile, research shows this vaccine can help control outbreaks so effectively that it can protect neighbouring farms from the disease.2

One of the most active areas of innovation is in shrimp farming, a vital source of sustainable seafood. To farm healthy shrimp, good water quality management is the priority in creating the perfect pH balance for optimal production. It can be a complex and challenging process, which can easily lead to production losses.

However, recent additions to our aquaculture portfolio provide farmers with new digital solutions to make management simpler. A mobile app monitors water quality in real-time through the farmer’s phone, making it easier to adjust through additives that help carefully balance the pond’s ecosystem.  

These three preventive health examples showcase very different types of innovation. However, what all of them have in common is that they keep animals healthy, which is healthy for people and for the planet. At Elanco, we will keep innovating, and together with our customers, we will keep advocating for sustainable farming.


1 The value of anticoccidials for sustainable global poultry production, Stefanie Kadykalo, et al., International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents (2018); https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2017.09.004 

2 Skjold P et al. Vaccination against pancreas disease in Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., reduces shedding of salmonid alphavirus, 2016: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-ciences/coccidiostat

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