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Increasing antibiotic resistance (AMR) is a serious problem in human medicine, as reported by the WHO. AMR is also considered to be an increasingly serious problem in agriculture where farm animals are kept. One way out of this dilemma is innovative ways, e.g. reducing the use of antibiotics through homeopathy. This is precisely the path Bavaria is investigating in a human study that has received the green light from the authorities at the end of 2022 (Link to report in Homoeopathiewatchblog).
But what about in agriculture? Are there farmers who use homeopathy on farm animals and share their experience? I went looking and found what I was looking for in the UK.
In this article you can read how farmers in the UK have been using homeopathy for years to save on antibiotics. Behind the trend in the UK is also an organisation called Whole Health Agriculture (WHAg). It has summarised its experience in a survey of farmers. Their leaders give an assessment of how the use of homeopathy is changing here on the Homoeopathiewatchblog.
The WHAg is an organisation in the UK that supports farmers seeking alternatives to synthetic chemicals and antibiotics. It does this by providing information and courses. Homeopathy plays an important role in this.
To find out what farmers think about the use of homeopathy (and other CAM methods), WHAg has launched a survey of 220 livestock farmers (conventional and organic) in the UK and other countries in 2020 and 2021. Farmers of cattle, dairy cattle, pigs, sheep and poultry were surveyed (average farm size: 150 cows for dairy farmers).
The results of the survey are made available by WHAg to interested parties.
Here are the most important facts:
65 percent of the farmers surveyed report that they can reduce their use of antibiotics with homeopathy and other CAM. For dairy farmers, the figure is even higher, at 69 percent. And for 24 percent of farmers, the use of homeopathy and other cam even helps them to stop using antibiotics. 50 percent of dairy farmers report fewer and milder udder infections. Asked why they want to use fewer antibiotics, a third of farmers say they want to combat antibiotic resistance, improve the health of their livestock and the environment, and respond to their customers‘ wishes.
Other important values for livestock farmers also changed through the use of homeopathy: One-third of the farmers report that the profitability of the farm has increased – for dairy farmers it is even more than half. One reason for this is that more homeopathy and fewer antibiotics reduce treatment and medicine costs for 66 percent of farmers. Homeopathy and CAM have an impact on animal health: 84 percent of farmers report improvements in general health. 65 percent confirm reduced disease frequency or severity.
The farmers surveyed use CAM (88 percent use homeopathy, 68 percent phytotherapy) mainly for prevention of diseases (88 percent), followed by first aid, injuries, birth problems (86 percent).
Of the farmers surveyed, 82 percent have received training in the use of CAM – as many as 95 percent of dairy farmers. And 30 percent report that their veterinarian is positive about treatment with CAM. However, the survey also reports that some veterinarians have little knowledge about CAM and are therefore sceptical about it. This leads to farmers being reluctant to tell their vet about their homeopathy successes.
With this survey, the WHAg organisation wants to collect and share the knowledge and experience of farmers who have been successful in keeping healthy animals and reducing the use of antibiotics through homeopathy.
I asked board members of the WHAg organisation what response they had received to the survey. The survey coordinator Karen Seyersted reports a good response from farmers: „In the UK and worldwide, farmers turn to homeopathy and other CAM for various reasons. Reducing infections/infectious disease and antibiotics usage are high on their list. As we recruited farmers from associates such as the Soil Association, Biodynamic Association, Organic Research Centre, Agricology, The Rare Breeds Survival Trust and farm homeopathy course providers etc, we got a good response.“
I asked two other WHAg board members, homeopathic veterinarian Chris Aukland and homeopath and CEO of WHAg Jackie Pearce-Dickens, if they could perceive any changes in the perception of homeopathy in agriculture, and if so, what kind of changes.
They report that the WHAg has changed farmers‘ perceptions of homeopathy through a traffic light model. This model is used to assess and grade livestock over and over again. It focuses on prevention and early intervention, and to sort out the red zone, set up “red flags” and know when to call the vet. Depending on the level, there is a different need to intervene. The green level is the ideal situation, where the animals are healthy. This is where farmers learn to plan ahead; to prevent disease through routineuse of homeopathy, including nosodes, and tissue salts. In the farming year, situations tend to repeat themselves: fertility, mating, birthing, weaning, change of weather and diet, transport and other stress, so planning ahead is possible and key for success. In the yellow level, health is out of balance, in which case homeopathy and CAM can help. An important finding in the survey is that farmers report that they become better observers after learning homeopathy and CAM, which again helps them intervene early. In the red level, there are signs of illness, e.g. accidents, emergencies, serious diseases, where treatment by a veterinarian is necessary.
Chris and Jackie from WHAg give their assessment: „With today’s challenges, especially AMR, but also climate and cost of living, more farmers, also conventional farmers, are looking for alternatives. We are teaching homeopathy as part of a whole health management system (which by the way is easily transferable to any health management system). As a consequence, through the way we present homeopathy, others have shifted. So really we are more attuned to the Whole Health model, which in turn includes homeopathy.
This in consequence affects four areas:
- The Public – grasp the model very quickly and appreciate its applicability to farming and beyond
- The Farmers – grasp the model very quickly and start to see results within a short period of time. They are then keen to share their experience with other farmers.
- The Vets – will grasp the model when explained; slower to catch on as they live in the Red Level territory.
- The Government – have shown minimal interest as yet in the potential of a Whole Health model.“
WHAg draws the following conclusions from its survey: „This survey suggests that learning and integrating CAMs has the potential to fill a knowledge gap for both farmers and vets in the quest for better tools to prevent disease and improve livestock health. There appears to be a growing trend among supermarkets and milk buyers for farmers to reduce antibiotics based on market demand, not just legislation. This is even stronger among the dairy sector with some organic milk buyers aiming to move all their members to Produced Without Antibiotics (PWAB) status. Based on global health needs, industry trends, and the information on CAMs that our farmers have generously shared with us, WHAg strongly recommends that the potential for CAM-led approaches to livestock health are further investigated and documented, AND that farmers seeking alternatives are better supported, particularly by industry bodies.“
WHAg-Survey (79 pages, pdf, english): Link
Background on the organisation responsible for the survey:
„Whole Health Agriculture (Link https://wholehealthag.org/) was set up by Lawrence Woodward, OBE, and homeopaths MARH Jackie Pearce-Dickens and Karen Seyersted in 2018 to provide information, education, and support to farmers seeking alternatives to synthetic chemicals, antibiotics, and artificial interventions. Homeopathic vet, MFHom, MRCVS Chris Aukland, has since joined the board as Head of Livestock Health, and Karin Mont, head of Alliance of Registered Homeopaths in the UK, replaced Karen as a director in 2022. Since its inception, WHAG has developed a Learning Centre with memberships and a foundation course in progressive farm homeopathy, trained livestock whole health advisors and are developing a program of ambassador farms, and a research team. WHAg also runs regular webinars and support groups for farmers, attend conferences, and has an extended network of farmers, vets, homeopaths and researchers worldwide.“