CAP Strategic Plan 2023-27 to fight antimicrobial resistance in animals

The European Commission put into force, by 1st January 2023, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2023-27. The new CAP 2023-27 will ensure a sustainable future for European farmers, provide more targeted support to smaller farms, and allow greater flexibility for EU countries to adapt measures to local conditions. The new CAP 2023-27 is consistent with the EU legislations and the commitments of the Farm to Fork and biodiversity strategies for the climate and the environment.

EU countries, at national level, produced a thorough analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats-SWOT) of their territory and agri-food sector and submitted their CAP Strategic Plans until 31st December 2021. The Commission supported and assisted each EU country with tailor-made recommendations by identifying the key areas on which each EU country should focus on their national CAP Strategic Plan.

10 Key objectives of CAP 2023-27

Image credits: (C) CAP Strategic Plan 2023-27

How CAP 2023-27 will contribute to the combat against antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance has a direct impact on human and animal health. There is an evidence that antimicrobial resistance is transmitted to humans through overuse of antimicrobials in animals. The World Health Organization called antimicrobial resistance “an increasingly serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society”. [1]

In order to achieve the Farm to Fork objective of 50% sales reduction of antimicrobials in animals by 2030, EU countries set up, in their dedicated CAP Strategic Plans, measures to reduce antimicrobial resistance in animals and increase animal health and welfare. These measures are highly connected with the key challenges of the EU agriculture for safe, nutritious and sustainable food, reductions in food waste, and improvements to animal health and welfare.

Farm to Fork strategy objectives

Image credits: (C) Farm to Fork strategy

For the CAP 2023-27, farmers will receive a total funding of €6.3 billion for measures to reduce the need to treat animals with antimicrobials. Those measures mainly involve the development of newly built or renovated fam housing systems to improve the animals welfare, rural development measures such as animal welfare labelling schemes or radication programmes for animal diseases. [2]

Financial support to farmers will also be allocated to organic farming for better animal welfare. The support of the current Common Agricultural Policy for organic farming will reach 10% (5.6% in 2020).

Research programme Horizon Europe will also contribute towards improved animal health and welfare.  A European Partnership on animal health and welfare will be launched this year. he total indicative EU contribution for the full duration of the partnership is €180 million euro. In line with the European Green Deal, this partnership will contribute to reduction of antimicrobial usage and improvement of animal welfare, as part of its priorities towards fair, healthy and resilient animal production systems, according to to the objectives and targets of the new Common Agricultural Policy and the EU Farm to Fork strategy.




ARMOR Cluster – 7 research projects tackle antimicrobial resistance

Horizon Results Booster (HRB) is an initiative of the European Commission which aims to bring a continual stream of innovation to the market and maximise the impact of public funded research within the EU. HRB contributes to the dissemination and exploitation of the project results to the different stakeholders. They offer different services such as building dissemination, exploitation strategy, and business plan development for different projects.

Services of Horizon Results Booster

To achieve this, HRB offers free consulting services as building dissemination, exploitation strategy, and business plan development for different projects:

  1. Portfolio Dissemination & Exploitation Strategy
  2. Tailor made support services to develop a business plan
  3. Assistance, coaching and mentoring for go-to-market activities.

HRB Success stories involve closed or ongoing research projects funded by FP7, Horizon 2020, or Horizon Europe programmes.

ARMOR Cluster to fight antimicrobial resistance

Within this program, AVANT collaborates together with other EU projects, AMRILS, BM-FARM, DISARM, FARM-CARE, HealthyLivestock and Roadmap, and  formed a Project Group (PG) named “ArMoR –fighting Antimicrobial Resistance in livestock farming”. This project group is formed based on common features in these projects’ activities and results in this research field. The projects in this group aim to develop a conceptual framework to improve understanding of AMR in livestock systems. With HRB, this project group has created a portfolio of results that are suitable for joint dissemination.

The ArMoR Cluster will organise on February 16th a joint event where science will meet industry to discuss reducing antimicrobial use in livestock. The event will take place in Wageningen International Conference Centre (WICC), in Wageningen, The Netherlands.

It will be open free of charge for industries, researchers, veterinarians and farmers and other interested parties.

More information about the event

ARMOR Antimicrobial resistanceImage credits: (C) ArMoR Cluster

Watch the ARMOR video here

Check the ARMOR factsheet here

Pigs and Christmas – 5 interesting facts to make your holidays memorable

The countdown has started and there are only a few days left until the most magical day of the year. Everybody is shopping for presents or decorating their house with Christmas lights & miniature Santa figurines. Carol whispers travel through the icy air while the smell of cookie dough travels the town from one frozen corner to another.

Of course, pigs play a significant role during this period of the year, not only as a dish for the Christmas days, but have been included in many cultures, since Neolithic times. Pigs can be found in the literature, in religions, in several traditions around the world.

Find out below interesting facts about pigs in traditions, recipes for delicious Christmas snacks and gift for your beloved people.

The “Lucky Pig” or Glücksschwein in Germany and Austria

 Since ancient times, pigs were considered as a sign of prosperity and wealth. The ancient Greeks and Romans regarded as privileged those who had many pigs and ultimately food. In German speaking tribes, pigs were also considered a symbol of fertility and strength. In Austria and Germany, in New Year’s Eve, people offer to each other a pig replica, usually made of marzipan, for good luck (Glücksschwein). The pig is often combined with a chimney sweep as a rider and a lucky penny or a four-leaf clover in its mouth. In the German language “Schwein gehabt” (“got a pig”) is a figure of speech and means “to be lucky”.

pigs in Christmas traditions

Image credits: (C) Shutterstock

Marzipan Pig prize in Scandinavia

During Jul in Scandinavia, the Christmas holidays season in Scandinavia, a tradition in Norway and Sweden is to eat rice porridge (known as risgrøt in Norwegian or risgrynsgröt in Swedish) with a single almond hidden in it. Whoever finds the almond receives a marzipan pig as a prize. The same tradition exists for Christmas Eve in Denmark, but with risalamande (rice pudding).

A delicious Christmas snack for pigs 

Do you want to recycle your old Christmas tree? you have the chance to turn it into a nice treat for farm animals. Last year, a farm zoo in Tucson, Arizona, accepted leftover trees from a nearby tree farm and fed their pigs and goats. Pigs can benefit from pine trees, to drag them around, play, jump or scratch them.

Image credits: (C) Shutterstock

Pigs in a blanket 

The British and Irish pigs in a blanket are small, cocktail-sized sausages wrapped in streaky bacon, traditionally served at the Christmas lunch and often on Boxing Day. They should not be confused with the not the pastry-wrapped sausages served in the United States.

 Follow the instructions below and have a delicious Christmas dish


  • 8 to 12 slices streaky bacon
  • 24 cocktail sausages


  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius
  2. On a chopping board, lay the slices of streaky bacon side by side.
  3. Take each cocktail sausage and wrap it tightly with the bacon.
  4. Lightly grease a baking tray and cover with baking parchment.
  5. Lay the wrapped sausage on the prepared baking tray with the seam underneath.
  6. Pop the tray into the oven and cook for about 25-30 minutes or until the bacon is crisp and golden and the sausage is cooked through.

Image credits: (C) Shutterstock

The perfect Christmas gift for the whole family 

A unique gift idea for your younger friends and your kids can also be a nice book about pigs and Christmas. The “Christmas Pig” by J.K. Rowling is a heart-warming story Jack and his favourite toy, Dur Pig. What will happen though when during Christmas Eve, Dur Pig is lost ? How far will Jack go to find his most treasured thing? A magical Christmas adventure for the whole family.

To stay updated on the latest news about AVANT, follow us on social media.


Survey results in 5 European countries about antibiotics in animals demonstrates the awareness for antibiotic resistance and the expectations for promising alternative solutions

Within AVANT, different types of potential alternatives are developed and tested to replace antibiotics in pig production and treat bacterial diseases, such as post weaning diarrhoea. Are people familiar with those alternatives? Would farmers and veterinarians apply those alternatives in pig farms? What do consumers know about antibiotic resistance and would consumer be willing to pay more for pork meat produced with less antibiotics?

All those questions and more are included in a survey that was conducted to understand the level of acceptance of the AVANT solutions.

Survey Infographics 

More than 2,300 veterinarians, pig farmers and consumers, participated in a 15-minutes phone interview, to answer questions associated with the risks of antibiotic use, antibiotic resistance and their impression about the potential AVANT alternatives. The survey was conducted in 5 European countries, all of them included in the list of top-10 pig producing countries across Europe (Spain, Germany, Denmark, France and Poland).

The interviewed farmers and veterinarians had longstanding experience (more than 20 years) in pork production. Consumers were equally divided over both genders (49% men, 51% women) and age categories. Over 90 % of the interviewed consumers also stated they eat meat including pork.

Survey Results

Awareness towards antibiotic resistance highlights the necessity for alternative solutions

More than 70% of the participants agree that antibiotic resistance is a public health problem and that it is needed to reduce antibiotics in animals. They are aware of the negative impact of antibiotic resistance on human health. Most of the participants would be willing to pay 10% more for meat produced with less antibiotics.

awareness about antibiotics and necessity for alternatives

Image credits: (C) RTDS

According to the survey results, the potential benefits of reduced antibiotics usage are healthier food products and safer environment, higher quality of animal and human health, as well as financial benefits for farmer, who would be able to sell their products more easily.

High acceptance and expectations of AVANT solutions

In comparison to existing biosecurity procedures, feeding strategies and probiotics are the most accepted AVANT solutions, followed by immunostimulants. The rest of the project solutions was seen as neutral.

Image credits: (C) RTDS

Farmers and veterinarians were convinced about the safety of those solutions towards pigs and humans, the easiness to apply them in pig farms and their effectiveness to control of post-weaning diarrhoea.

Image credits: (C) RTDS

Consumers are positive about buying meat that has been treated with one of the AVANT interventions and they agree that use of those interventions instead of antibiotics would improve the image of animal farming on their country.

The results of the survey have shown that:

  1. It is necessary to reduce the use of antibiotics in animal production, to prevent resistance in animals and humans.
  2. Solutions like those developed and tested in AVANT are highly accepted
  3. There is a clear market potential for these alternative solutions.

The coordinator of AVANT, Prof. Luca Guardabassi commenting the results mentioned that: “The AVANT survey helps the involved stakeholders to become more familiar with the solutions developed and tested in the project, including also their strengths and weaknesses. The differences in results between the 3 groups in the participating countries show the scepticism to apply those solutions in pig farms for meat production. The results will also support the farm trials at the latest stage of the project and our goal to bring some of those solutions closer to the market”

On behalf of the Federation of Veterinarians Europe (FVE), Jan Vaarten stated: “The results of the survey help to better understand the opinion of participants about the value and the limitations of alternatives for antibiotics. It is also encouraging that consumers understand that antibiotic resistance is an important public health problem and agree that use of antibiotics in animals has to go down. The results of the survey, regardless of differences among stakeholders in the involved countries, confirm that the AVANT approach and developed solutions are well accepted”

For more information about the results, check the survey report in the AVANT website:


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AVANT: UCPH leads a €6M research project to decrease antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in pigs

AVANT – Alternatives to Veterinary ANTimicrobials launches a new series of blog articles to introduce the consortium partners and the people working hard for the implementation of the project. Who are those partners, how do they contribute in the project and what is their opinion about AVANT?

In the second blog of these series, the project coordinator Prof. Luca Guardabassi explains the potential results and the contribution of AVANT in the field of veterinary medicine.

Profile of University of Copenhagen (UCPH)

The University of Copenhagen (UCPH, is one of the largest institutions of research and education in the Nordic countries. It has approximately 39,000 students and 9,000 employees, of whom 5,000 are researchers. Ranked as the best university in the Nordic region, the university also ranks highly outside Scandinavia and was ranked ranked 6th in Europe and 29th in the world by the 2018 Academic Ranking of World Universities – Shanghai. UCPH participates actively in European funding programmes and to date participated in 376 Horizon 2020 projects, including 63 ERC grants. UCPH has a dedicated post-award team of H2020 specialists for administrating EU grants.

With more than 300 employees, the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (IVH) is the larger of the two Departments that make up the Copenhagen School of Veterinary and Animal Science. It compiles all basic veterinary and animal science disciplines with production animal medicine. Research focuses on animal and zoonotic infections, with AMR and alternatives to antimicrobials being two major research lines. It is organized into nine sections, five of which participate in the current project. The Department is highly recognized internationally for research within antimicrobial resistance, alternatives to antimicrobials, swine medicine and biomedical research.

IVH hosts the UCPH Research Centre for Control of Antibiotic Resistance (UC-Care, UC-Care research aims at generating new knowledge and solutions for enhanced diagnostics and antibiotic therapy of bacterial infections through One Health intersectoral collaboration between the human and the veterinary sector.

Role of UCPH in AVANT

UCPH is the coordinator of the AVANT project and leader of WP 9 (management coordinator). Moreover, UCPH is the leader of WP1, the driving partner behind faecal transplant trials. Together with Easy AgriCare (EA) they are further advancing the phage product development in WP2. UCPH is contributing faecal transplantation to testing, and advancing a phage-based feed additive together with EA.

Image credits: (C) RTDS

Profile of Prof. Luca Guardabassi 

Luca Guardabassi ( is professor with special duties (PMSO) and leader of the research group One Health Antimicrobial Resistance. He is an internationally recognized One Health microbiologist specialized in AMR and antimicrobial therapy with over 180 publications in peer-reviewed journals (H-index 57  on Google Scholar, last accessed in March 2021).

Luca graduated in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pisa in Italy in 1994, and obtained his PhD in Microbiology from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University in Denmark in 2000. Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Public Health (ECVPH) since 2005 and the European College of Veterinary Microbiology (ECVM) since 2020. For over 20 years, his research has focused on evolution and epidemiology of multidrug-resistant bacteria of clinical relevance in human and veterinary medicine, including but not limited to VRE, MRSA, MRSP and ESBL-producing Enterobacteriales.

Among the highlights, he contributed to a better understanding of the environmental origins of some of the most feared AMR determinants in human medicine, namely glycopeptide resistance operons in Gram-positive bacteria and carbapenemase-encoding genes in Gram-negative bacteria. In recent years, his research has shifted focus towards bacterial response to antimicrobials, antimicrobial drug target discovery, and metagenomics of the intestinal and respiratory tract in domestic animals.

He is a pioneer of antimicrobial stewardship in veterinary medicine and participated in numerous national and international working groups for developing guidelines for rational antimicrobial use in animals. As part of his honorary office, he is a member of the executive committee in ESCMID Study Group for Veterinary Microbiology (ESGVM) since 2015 and chairs the Therapeutic Guidelines Group of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) since 2018.


Interview with Prof. Luca Guardabassi - AVANT coordinator

Image credits: (C) Prof. Luca Guardabassi

Commenting on the AVANT project, Luca commented, “Due to the risks of zoonotic transmission of AMR from animals to humans, reduction in the use of antibiotics in the veterinary sector has become a hot topic in the scientific community as well as in the society as a whole. Some countries like Denmark and the Netherlands have shown that livestock can be produced efficiently with limited use of antibiotics. Effective and sustainable alternatives to antibiotics, like those developed and tested in AVANT, are one of the key measures to further minimize the need for antibiotics in livestock production without affecting animal health and welfare”.

Click here to access the full interview from Prof. Luca Guardabassi

To stay updated on the latest news about UCPH and AVANT, follow us on social media.


AVANT and BIOMIN join forces to promote the health of piglets by 2025

AVANT – Alternatives to Veterinary ANTimicrobials launches a new series of blog articles to introduce the consortium partners and the people working hard for the implementation of the project. Who are those partners, how do they contribute in the project and what is their opinion about AVANT?

Profile of BIOMIN

BIOMIN ( is a research-oriented company whose task is to improve animal health and the economic production of animals with them headquarter located in Getzersdorf (Austria) and the ISO 9001:2015 accredited BIOMIN Research Center situated in Tulln (Austria).

BIOMIN’s core business is the development and manufacturing of innovative and natural feed additives for animal husbandry to ensure a profitable and sustainable food system. To increase gut performance, BIOMIN offers feed additives based on probiotic strains (e. g. multi-species synbiotic product for poultry), plant-derived substances or ingredients for mycotoxin inactivation. Products of BIOMIN are distributed among clients in the poultry, swine, cattle and aquaculture sectors are located in more than 100 countries worldwide by own subsidiaries or through distribution partners. In October 2020, Royal DSM, the Dutch pioneer in Nutrition, Health and Sustainable Living, acquired BIOMIN and its parent company ERBER Group.

BIOMIN’s microbiology and molecular biology specialists have long experience in the isolation and characterization of microorganisms and established various test systems to monitor alterations of the gut microbiota composition, intestinal integrity, gut morphology or local immune response in livestock. In addition, a dedicated research group at the BIOMIN Research Center focuses on the development, optimization and up-scaling of bioprocesses.

BIOMIN contributes to animal health and sustainability

As a pioneer in animal feed additives, BIOMIN harness the power of science to support animal health and performance. By applying state-of-the-art and proprietary technology the core target is to deliver natural, sustainable and profitable solutions to the livestock industry. For over 30 years BIOMIN has pioneered innovative solutions for mycotoxin risk management and gut performance. BIOMIN’S in-house R&D program at the BIOMIN Research Center is staffed by over 100 scientific researchers and supported by eight Centres for Applied Animal Nutrition and a research network of 200 academic and research institutions globally.


Within the AVANT consortium, BIOMIN is further developing its multi-species synbiotic feed additive technology for pigs. BIOMIN is involved in the development and testing of gut microbiome modulators, optimising feed additives to prevent post-weaning diarrhoea in piglets on the basis of synbiotic products.

Profile of Dr. Verity-Ann Sattler

Dr. Verity Ann Sattler ( studied Microbiology and Genetics at the University of Vienna. During her Master´s and Doctoral studies at the Institute of Environmental Biotechnology (Department of Agrobiotechnology), she developed molecular techniques to investigate the effect of pro- and prebiotics on the gut microbiota in piglets and broilers. In 2012, she joined the R&D team of BIOMIN, where she implemented next generation sequencing based methods to characterize the animals gut microbiome and to determine gut health related effects of natural feed additives. Currently, she is leading an internal research project on the development of a probiotic product to improve gut health and performance of piglets.

Dr. Verity-Ann Sattler in AVANT

Image credits: (C) BIOMIN, Dr. Verity Sattler

Commenting on the AVANT project, Verity observed, “Piglet scours is a costly, multi-factorial challenge. Pig producers need an expanded set of natural and innovative tools in order to successfully move away from the application of antimicrobials and zinc, which are associated with several drawbacks. Within the Alternatives to Veterinary ANTimicrobials project, BIOMIN will test a novel feed additive that we’ve developed to promote good gut health in swine using state-of-the art tools and techniques, including -Omics technologies and bioinformatics”.

Click here to access the full interview from Dr. Verity Ann Sattler (Research Associate in BIOMIN).

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Antimicrobials and AMR – The 21st century challenge for public health

What are antimicrobials?

An antimicrobial is an agent (natural, semi-synthetic, chemical substance), that is used to kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms [1].

Antimicrobial medicines are classified based on the microorganisms they act against. For example, antibiotics are normally used against bacteria, while antifungals are used against fungi. Another classification of antimicrobials is based on their function, such as microbicides killing microbes, while agents used to inhibit the growth of bacteria called bacteriostatic agents. The use of antimicrobial medicines to treat infections is known as antimicrobial therapy, while the use of antimicrobial medicines to prevent infection is known as prophylaxis [1].

Prudent use of antimicrobials benefits animals and humans, while reducing at the same time the emergence or spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

What is AMR?

Antimicrobials are used widely for the prevention or the treatment of diseases in food animals. Unfortunately, because of excessive and inappropriate use of antimicrobials, microorganisms have developed the ability to evolve resistance toward antimicrobial treatments, especially antibiotics [2].

How is AMR spread?

The massive use of antimicrobials is the major factor for the propagation of resistant microorganisms from animals to humans. Transmission of AMR from animals to humans and vice versa can take place through a variety of routes. Direct contact between animal and humans may be the major route of transmission. Resistant microorganisms as well as antimicrobial residues are spread in the environment from food-animal farming and production, mainly through manure. Food production is also another important route, for most infections related to enteric pathogens, such as Salmonella enterica [3].

Impact of AMR in public health

AMR is a serious challenge, in the EU and globally. AMR in livestock is a public health threat due to the risk of zoonotic transmission to humans and its negative consequences on animal health and welfare when diseases cannot be treated. It is estimated that AMR is responsible for about 33,000 deaths per year in the EU, costing the EU €1.5 billion per year in healthcare costs and productivity losses [4].

One Health policy

One Health is a multisectoral and transdisciplinary policy that recognizes the interconnection between humans, animals, plants and their shared environment. The One Health approach recognizes the link between human and animal health and that diseases are transmitted from humans to animals and vice versa. The term has been officially recognised as a validated, integrated and holistic approach by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) since 2010.  EU and United Nations adopted the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on AMR, with the potential goals of achieving optimal health conditions through the human-animal-plant-environment interface [5].

EU policies on AMR

In order to tackle the AMR problem and face local and global challenges, the European Commission adopted in June 2017 the EU One Health Action Plan against AMR, after the request of all Member States [4]. The 3 main pillar of the AMR Action Plan have been:

  1. Placing EU at the forefront as best practicing region
  2. Boosting research, development, strategies and innovation against AMR
  3. Shaping the global agenda

Image credits: (C) Shutterstock

Since the implementation of the EU One Health Action Plan against AMR, the Commission has aligned the recent scientific and research updates with the relevant animal health legislation, targeting the enforcement of animal welfare to higher level.

How AVANT fights against AMR

Antimicrobial treatment options for pigs are increasingly limited because of planned restrictions in the use of colistin and zinc, two current choices for treatment of post-weaning diarrhoea. In response to the increasing outbreaks of AMR, the AVANT project has been funded through the

Image credits: (C) RTDS

The AVANT project aims at developing alternatives to antimicrobials for the management of bacterial infections in pigs, especially diarrhoea during the weaning period, as the major indication for antimicrobial use in livestock in Europe. Click here to learn more about AVANT’s research plan.

To stay updated on the latest news about AMR and AVANT, follow us on social media.



[1] Pai, M. P., Schriever, C. A., & Pendlan, S. L. (2002). Antimicrobial Agents. Respiratory Care Pharmacology. Mosby. USA, 763-799.

[2] Economou, V., & Gousia, P. (2015). Agriculture and food animals as a source of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. Infection and drug resistance8, 49.

[3] Wegener, H. C. (2012, September). Antibiotic resistance—linking human and animal health. In Improving food safety through a one health approach: workshop summary (p. 331). National Academies Press.

[4] Binns, J. (2021, March). EU Action on Antimicrobial Resistance. Public Health – European Commission.

AVANT in the 5th International Conference on Responsible Use of Antibiotics in Animals

Join us on 8 June 2021 to discuss how EU-funded projects deal with the responsible and sustainable use of antibiotics in animals producing alternative solutions to fight antibiotics resistance in animals and humans

The 5th International Conference on Responsible Use of Antibiotics in Animals brings together four European projects in the fields of animal and human health, animal welfare and nutrition, antibiotics and antibiotics or antimicrobials resistance.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of microorganisms to resist antimicrobial treatments, especially antibiotics. AMR in livestock is a public health threat due to the risk of zoonotic transmission to humans and its negative consequences on animal health and welfare when diseases cannot be treated. It is estimated that AMR is responsible for about 33,000 deaths per year in the EU, costing the EU €1.5 billion per year in healthcare costs and productivity losses.

In June 2017, the European Commission adopted the EU One Health Action Plan against AMR to develop a common One Health strategy and action plan for all EU member in the fight against AMR. Targeting into further boost in research, development and innovation, EU will shape the global AMR agenda, being the best practice region. The EU has also set up the Joint Programming Initiative on AMR (JPIAMR) which aims to better coordinate and align worldwide AMR research efforts.

These major issues will be extensively discussed reflected in this on-line event to showcase best socio-economic, technical and regulatory innovations of the four European projects, each contributing towards reducing AMR and . A panel discussion will be held with invited experts, representing industry & SMEs, academia and policy makers


Socio-Economic, Technical and Regulatory Dimensions of Sustainable Change in Antimicrobial Use in Animal Production

The contribution of four EU projects to a sustainable change in antimicrobial use:

  • ROADMAP: Rethinking of Antimicrobial Decision-systems in the Management of Animal Production (project coordinator: Dr Nicolas Fortané, INRAE, France).
  • AVANT: Alternatives to Veterinary ANTimicrobials (project coordinator: Prof. Luca Guardabassi, University of Copenhagen, Denmark).
  • DISARM: Disseminating Innovative Solutions for Antibiotic Resistance Management (project coordinator: Dr Erwin Wauters, ILVO, Belgium)
  • HealthyLivestock: Reducing antimicrobial use through improved livestock Health and Welfare (project coordinator: Dr Hans Spoolder, Wageningen Livestock Research, the Netherlands)

Chair: Dr Nicolas Fortané, INRAE, France

10:00 Chair’s introduction and short presentations of the four projects

10:15 Theme 1: Social, economic, and regulatory factors of transitions

  • ROADMAP: What can social sciences say about change and transition? Behavioural and structural drivers of antimicrobial use (AMU) on socio-economic drivers of AMU and alternatives to AMU (Dr Nicolas Fortané, INRAE, France)
  • AVANT: Regulatory pathways for alternative products to antimicrobials (Dr Klaus Hellmann, Klifovet AG, Germany)
  • DISARM: Experience with the interactive innovation approach and multi-actor projects (Dr Helena de Carvalho Ferreira, ILVO, Belgium)
  • Q&A

11:00 Break

11:10 Theme 2: Promising technical innovations to reduce AMU

  • AVANT: Non-antibiotic control of ETEC in piglets using phage and polymer strategies (Dr Liam Good, Royal Veterinary College, University of London, UK)
  • HealthyLivestock: Does the peri-hatching environment affect broiler chicken resilience? (Dr Ingrid de Jong, Wageningen Livestock Research, the Netherlands)
  • HealthyLivestock: Case study – integrated technology application of early diagnosis and immunity improvement in chicken farms (Prof. Shuming Yang, Institute of Quality Standard and Testing Technology for AgroProducts, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China)
  • DISARM: Dissemination material: database, videos, abstracts, best practice guides and toolbox (Dr Laura Palczynski, Innovation for Agriculture, UK)
  • Q&A

12:05 Break

12:15 Theme 3: Stakeholder engagement and impact

  • ROADMAP: Experiences with Living Labs as an approach towards prudent AMU in different contexts (Bernadette Oehen, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Switzerland and Dr Mette Vaarst, Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, Denmark)
  • DISARM: Improving antibiotic use through multi-actor farm health plans and coaching (Annick Spaans, ZLTO, the Netherlands)
  • Q&A

13:00 Break

Download the full programme here.


Please register here

Bacteriophages – Fighting antimicrobial resistance

Bacteriophages (phages) are viruses infecting bacteria and can be used as an alternative to antimicrobials. But how can we use viruses to kill bacterial pathogens? AVANT will develop and test anti-ETEC phages based products to reduce the use of colistin and other highest priority critically important antimicrobial HP-CIAs for the treatment of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli infections in pigs. This will reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance in humans and animals.

Equivalent to many bacteria associated with our body, forming the microbiome, phages are part of the microflora too. In fact, they are an integral part of our physiology. Phages control the population of bacteria in the gut and prevent certain species to dominate the flora. Consequently, they help to maintain a healthy balance. In essence, phages are as abundant as bacteria in the human body, where they accumulate in the gut mucosa for example [1]. Additionally, phages constitute a fundamental part of the virome, which is the total population of viruses deeply associated and interacting with our cells and organism [2].

Bacteriophages as antimicrobials

Depending on how phages infect bacteria, they are referred to as ‘lytic’ or ‘temperate’. Lytic phages break bacterial cells open (lytic cycle) and destroy them after immediate replication of new phage progeny, which represent complete particles made of nucleic acid (RNA or DNA) and a protein coat. After destroying the bacterial cell, the phage progeny can ultimately find new host cells to infect. Bacteriophage T4 for example, infects E. coli and can actually be found in the human intestinal tract [3]. At the moment, lytic phages are the only phages suitable for the so called phage therapy.

In contrast, temperate phages can undergo a lysogenic cycle, which does not lead to an immediate lysis of the bacterial host cells, instead their DNA will integrate with the bacteria DNA and replicate along with it until the conditions surrounding the bacteria will change and the phage will eventually be released by lysating the cell [4]. However, the use of native temperate phages as antimicrobials is currently not considered safe. Phage lambda of E. coli is an example of a bacteriophage following the lysogenic cycle as well as the lytic cycle.

A targeted treatment by using bacteriophages

Generally speaking, phages detect host cells by recognizing specific proteins on the bacteria surface, which ensures that each phage type usually attacks only one gut bacterium species. In return, this is a huge advantage for using them as a targeted treatment. Altogether, the use of bacteriophages enables a targeted destruction of pathogenic microbes without damaging the remaining microbiome, as it is the case for antibiotics. Moreover, phages are subject to evolution and quickly adapt to changing environmental influences, which enables them to overcome mutations, that bacteria develop to escape infections. Obviously, a fundamental difference to antibiotics.

A recognised contribution to the gut health is definitely represented by phage genes which are coding for enzymes, that are important for the microbiome’s amino acid and carbohydrate metabolism [5]. Apart from that, some phages can even degrade polymeric substances produced by bacterial communities to defend themselves, also referred to as biofilms. While the polymeric substances are very efficient in reducing the antibiotic concentration that will reach the bacterial cells within a biofilm, it has been demonstrated that phages can permeate this barrier and infect their host [6].

Phages as allies in fighting antimicrobial resistance

  1. In total, our organism contains about as many bacterial as human cells, and at least the same number of phages
  2. Phages not only balance our microbiome, but significantly advance its development and presumably fulfil further, as yet unknown functions
  3. Ultimately, bacterial infections can be controlled with selected phages, which is a chance to push back antibiotic-resistant germs


(C) UCPH, Plate with phages isolated against porcine ETEC strains.


The use of phages to treat diseases is an effective weapon in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. Nonetheless, there are still numerous regulatory hurdles that need to be overcome in order to ensure the safety of their use and effectiveness. Hence, AVANT will use state-of-the-art tools under the guidance of University of Copenhagen (UCPH) in clinical testing of phage formulations. The research approach basically builds on testing and optimising phage-based products to target ETEC clinical strains. In brief, it includes metagenomics profiling by 16S rDNA and shotgun sequencing and susceptibility testing in porcine infection models. Furthermore, the UCPH provides porcine ETEC infection models and animal facilities for in vivo testing of phage products among others.

Involved Partners: University of Copenhagen, Easy AgriCare, Schothorst Feed Research, SEGES: AVANT Consortium.

Find out more about AVANT’s Research Plan here.


Authors: Assistant Professor Michela Gambino, PhD

University of Copenhagen, Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences

Dr. Stefan Weiss, Dipl. Biol.

RTDS Group, Dissemination & Communication

Related articles: “Status Quo of Alternatives to Antibiotics in Pig Farming”



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