Fewer antibiotics for calves

Large amounts of antibiotics are used in calves. To reduce antibiotic use, we need healthy calves. A number of projects funded by the FSVO are identifying the reasons for high antibiotic use in calves, as well as possible solutions for keeping calves more healthily.

Calves should need fewer antibiotics

Antibiotic resistance in bacteria is a growing problem. Resistance means that the antibiotics available are no longer effective. High antibiotic use can encourage the development of bacterial resistance, which is why it is important to minimise the use of antibiotics. To achieve this, we need calves that are as healthy as possible. The FSVO funds research projects in this area.

What does calf health depend on?

If calves become weak and sick, the cause may lie in the management system. Calves are often taken from their farm of birth at a very young age and transported to a rearing facility where they are mixed together in groups. At this stage, their immune defences are not yet well developed. Transport and the new surroundings mean stress for the young calves. Stress weakens them and increases the risk of infections passing between animals.

How can calf health be improved?

Calf health can be improved in various ways. Calves should be as healthy as possible on arrival at the rearing facility. To keep them healthy once there, the housing conditions must be ideal. This includes a good barn climate, good hygiene, suitable feeding and low stress. The animals can also be specifically vaccinated to protect against diseases.
The expense and effort required to maintain calf health must be economically viable for both farmers and veterinarians.

Why is the FSVO involved and who are the participants?

Human and animal health are closely interconnected and diseases can be transmitted both directly and indirectly (for example, through the consumption of meat).

In addition, antibiotic resistance affects both humans and animals. The FSVO and other federal offices are committed to ensuring the long-term effectiveness of antibiotics. They have jointly developed the Swiss Antibiotic Resistance Strategy (StAR) (in German).

The FSVO also works with a number of external agencies. These include the Vetsuisse Faculty in Bern and Zurich, the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and the School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL).

"Open-air calf" project: Fewer antibiotics can be used
(in French)

The projects

Last modification 21.11.2022

Top of page