Livestock – Contributing to a sustainable food supply

Animal health products are helping to transform livestock production in the developed world. Now they can play a major role securing the availability of safe, healthy food for all.

Alongside advances in livestock breeding and nutrition, animal health products have helped to transform livestock and food production over the past 50 years. By cutting mortality rates andreducing losses from disease, they have contributed to significant increases in productivity.

Access to highly effective vaccines, parasite control, anti-infectives and a range of other veterinary medicines helped farmers respond to calls for increases in both output and efficiency in the second half of the 20th century. They helped fuel a similar surge in production and productivity in the US, where meat production rose by almost 90% in less than 50 years, and where egg and poultry output increased by over 400% in the same period.

The industry has continued to invest in the development of innovative products that protect animals from a growing range of diseases and allow farmers to get the best from their stock. New vaccines have been used to tackle emerging infections and to prevent food-borne diseases, while novel technologies have enabled farmers to produce more milk and meat from fewer animals, saving huge amounts on feed – the production of which would have tied up hundreds of thousands of acres of scarce agricultural land.

By controlling and eradicating a range of animal diseases – including many zoonotic infections – animal health products have made a major contribution to food safety. And by eliminating losses caused by those infections they have also helped to make food more affordable, contributing to a 75% decrease in global food prices, relative to wages, over the past 60 years.

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