Lister highlights antibiotic alternative to millions on One Show
19th Jan 2017 / By Alistair Driver
The steps NPA chairman Richard Lister is taking to cut antibiotic usage on his farm were showcased to millions of BBC viewers on the One Show last night.
Richard, who farms in North Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, was introduced at the start of a five-minute feature as 'one farmer who is leading the fight against superbugs'.
The slot focused on Richard's efforts to address persistent disease problems in his pig herd, notably Glässers Disease, with autogenous vaccines, which are made from cultures isolated at the site of infection to target the specific problem.
Using the vaccines has helped Richard significantly cut antibiotic usage, while dramatically improving his herd's health, a point used on the programme to illustrate how the pig industry is responding to the antibiotic challenge.
"You might not think so, but these little critters are at the forefront of veterinary science," One Show presenter Andy Kershaw told viewers from inside one of Richard's straw-based sheds at his 1,000-sow Yorkshire farm.
Explaining the antibiotic resistance problem in human and animal medicine, he said:
"Farmers have also been giving their animals way too many antibiotics and that has left many experts worried that antibiotic-resistant bacteria might be creeping into our food chain."
With farmers being forced to cut antibiotic usage 'pig farmer Richard Lister may just have found the solution', he added.
Richard said: "The particular problem on the farm was Glässers Disease, a bacterial infection that tends to give a respiratory problem.
"So what we looked to do was try and identify that strain and we developed a vaccine that was bespoke to this farm."
Vet Duncan Berkshire was filmed administering the vaccine. He outlined how this sort of 'bespoke and specific' solution addresses the particular disease problem in a more targeted manner than antibiotics, including 'leaving the friendly bacteria alone'.
The farm is on its third vaccine to deal with different disease strains. Each vaccine can take 18 months to develop and cost £5,000 to deliver.
Richard said this was equivalent to how much he would expect to spend on antibiotics and that the new approach was working economically and in terms of herd health, having seen a 30 per cent drop in mortality rate.
He said: "It has been very successful for us. Overall pigs are just far healthier with less treatments. It has been a win-win all round."
And from there it was back to Matt Baker in the studio and 'from vaccinated pigs to fluffy dogs and very cuddly penguins'.