• Funding constraints have hobbled Agriculture Research Council plans to manufacture a vaccine for foot and mouth disease, leaving SA reliant on costly imports from Botswana.

  • Animals are the main victims of history, and the treatment of domesticated animals in industrial farms is perhaps the worst crime in history. The march of human progress is strewn with dead animals. 

  • For thousands of years, monstrous herds of animals roamed the earth. These beasts covered vast swaths of land in search of food, water, and safety from predators. Their presence was integral, both as a food source for hunters and as ecological regulators.

  • For many of us, eating a meal containing meat is a normal part of daily life. But if we dig deeper, some sobering issues emerge.

  • A complete diagram of an animal's nervous system has been put together by scientists and can help us learn more about how nerve cells in our brains work. 

  • The modern domestic donkey (Equusasinus) descended from the African wild ass, (E. africanus) in northeastern Africa from about 6000 years ago.

  • South Africa’s livestock industry, recovering from the impact of a recent devastating drought and disease outbreak, is likely to create demand for feed additives thanks to an increasing population, a surge in demand for quality meat products and a spike in consumer spending, especially among the middle class.

  • As consumer demand and regulatory scrutiny further restrict the use of antibiotics in farm animals worldwide, new understanding enabled by gene sequencing-based technologies and a new approach to animal rearing will be crucial.

    “The resistance of bacteria against antibiotics is a growing worldwide concern in the field of animal husbandry, and more importantly in human medicine,” observed Dr Mahdi Ghanbari, Scientist at BIOMIN Research Centre.

    Industry practitioners face a set of challenges when it comes to maintaining high performing, healthy and profitable animals while using fewer or no antibiotics.

    Nutrition and feed additives for prevention
    “Nutrition has a crucial function in animal performance as well as in the maintenance of optimal animal health and welfare status. Specialty feed ingredients used in feed and pet food, are pivotal contributors to ensuring adequate nutrition and optimal animal welfare,” noted Joerg Seifert of FEFANA, the EU Association of Specialty Feed Ingredients and their Mixtures.

    The effects of novel feed additives such as growth promotion, nutrient quality preservation, mycotoxin mitigation and pathogen prevention, contribute to a preventative approach that reduces the need for antimicrobials.

    “A holistic 360-degree approach to antibiotic reduction based on prevention, involves looking at the entire set of factors that can contribute to animal health and performance. This includes management, nutrition, biosecurity, hygiene and health,” explained Nataliya Roth, development scientist at BIOMIN.

    “Maintaining animals in optimal health contributes to the prevention of veterinary treatments and connected antibiotic use in livestock production,” added Seifert.

    Omics technonew lightlogies to shed 
    The rapid advancement of gene sequencing technologies have recently made it possible to investigate a number of related questions regarding antibiotics. This includes the prevalence and transmission of antibiotic resistance, as well as the mode of action of antibiotics and feed additives.

    Next generation sequencing (NGS) allows for the analysis of the genome as well as the transcriptome – the expression of all genes – at a given biological moment.

    “Novel methods to study antibiotic resistance genes have been developed, enhanced by emerging NGS technologies,” stated Dr Ghanbari.

    “It is important to understand the cellular mode of action of AGPs in order to develop suitable alternatives and optimise animal nutrition,” remarked Dr Bertrand Grenier, scientist at BIOMIN Research Centre.

    “By using RNA sequencing, we have confirmed that beyond their antimicrobial effect, AGPs interact with the host tissue and modulate the anti-inflammatory response. A more sustainable method of growth promotion would, for example, modulate the same anti-inflammatory response without contributing to antibiotic resistance,” added Dr Grenier.

    Recent scientific findings
    Several categories of novel feed additives can play a role in an AGP-free or antibiotic-free feeding programme.

    “BIOMIN scientists and researchers have evaluated the effects of organic acids-based products, phytogenics and synbiotics on antibiotic resistant bacteria and genes in recent years,” explained Roth.

    A minimum criterion for success is that an antibiotic reduction strategy maintains high performance levels and does not contribute to antibiotic resistance (AMR). Fortunately, the latest results suggest that this is achievable.

    “Several scientific trials provide the confirmation that replacing antibiotics by novel feed additives provide similar levels of performance while reducing the prevalence of antibiotic resistance,” Roth concluded.

  • It’s tempting to think that our forests would be fine if we could simply stop trees being felled or burnt. But forests – particularly tropical ones – are more than just trees. They’re also the animals that skulk and swoop among them.

  • One fine Hawaiian day in 2015, Geoff Zahn and Anthony Amend set off on an eight-hour hike.

  • In listing 32 wild animal species as farm animals under the Animal Improvement Act in 2019, the Department of Agriculture went against the recommendations of the government’s own scientific authority.

  • Whatever your views on animal testing for scientific research, they have helped us make some very real breakthroughs in our understanding in fields like neuroscience.

  • The Disturbing Link: Animal Antibiotics and Human Health

  • For great numbers of people, especially those living in overpopulated urban areas where only the odd parks serve as small patches of greenery, nature is something out there somewhere.

  • The welfare of millions of cattle, sheep and goats exported from the EU is being put at risk by failings including heat stress, bad planning and a lack of information from the destination country, a new European commission report has found.

  • While there is general scientific consensus that the novel coronavirus is of zoonotic origin and various groupings are advising that wildlife markets must be closed, the South African government has been putting forward legislation that could massively expand the wildlife industry to become mass meat suppliers to the world.

  • The northern white rhinoceros. The passenger pigeon. The Javan tiger. The golden toad. The Pinta Island tortoise. These are just some of the dozens of land-based vertebrate species that have gone extinct over the past century. Many more will likely follow them into oblivion soon, a team of scientists warns in a new study which makes for sobering reading.

  • The decomposing remains of an adult white rhino lie in the bush. Its horn has been cut off – the bleached skull and vertebrae the only evidence it ever existed.

  • As the world marks World Lions Day today, World Animal Protection warns that the King of the Jungle may soon be extinct if urgent measures are not taken.

  • Climate change is making it hard for livestock to get enough nutrients from natural grazing alone.