VAM has organized another fruitful seminar with the theme of Livestock Farming in Malaysia: Challenges Toward the Era of Globalisation in conjunction with the Livestock Asia Expo & Forum 2018 on the 20th April 2018 in KLCC. Around 150 pax of registered participants and an array of speakers from Department of Veterinary Services (DVS), industry and academia were present in the event.

The seminar began with Dr Chee Liung Wun, as the chairman and emcee of the event welcoming Mr Alun Jones, UBM MES General Manager for opening speech. Mr Alun Jones acknowledged VAM for its support and cooperation to organize seminar with good contents, as seminars like these are integral part of the exhibition. Mr Alun Jones subsequently presented a token of appreciation to VAM’s president Dato’ Dr Quaza Nizamuddin. Dato’ Dr Quaza Nizamuddin reciprocated and thanked UBM with a token as well for allocating the venue and time slot.

Dato’ Dr Quaza subsequently presented his opening speech as VAM president and welcomed all participants from different sectors within the livestock industry to the seminar to gain knowledge and discuss the trends and directions moving forward. As the theme stated, there are indeed many challenges in animal health and food safety due to lengthening and increasing complexity of livestock supply chain, as well as global pressure to reduce antibiotics usage in animals due to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threat in humans and also animal welfare concerns. It is hoped with such seminar and platform; it can gear all relevant stakeholders to face transformation in the livestock industry.

Dato’ Dr Quaza resumed the floor wearing another hat, the Director General of DVS to present the topic on Livestock Farming in Malaysia, the Way Forward. A very comprehensive presentation was shared with overview on all livestock species of importance in Malaysia. The biggest contributor to GDP is the poultry industry. Poultry industry in Malaysia has all the upstream and downstream activities from feedmills, grandparent stocks and breeder farms as well as processing plants. Broilers and eggs are important source of protein for Malaysians due to the ease of availability and affordability. Malaysia is self-sufficient in poultry produce and are also exporting, mostly to Singapore. Swine industry is also an important sector in Malaysia where we are 95% self-sufficient and importing small percentage of frozen pork from EU and suckling piglets from Vietnam. Swiftlet industry is the fastest growing sector in livestock with impressive growth of 28% per annum. This is partly due to increasing demand from China and also Malaysia’s strength in implementation of traceability system which ensures quality assurance to the importing countries. Ruminant industry has proven to be a constant challenge with increasing demand and almost constant local production. Malaysia is 23% self-sufficient in beef and about 80% of imported beef are buffalo meat from India. For goat and sheep where self-sufficiency level hovers around 11%, importation is mostly from Australia. Milk industry has seen improvement in recent years due to successful implementation of government initiatives under Economic Transformation Program’s Entry point project (EPP) where anchor companies are identified and assistance given to enlarge the operation through investment and subsidies. The local brand, Farm Fresh is a good example where the brand is capturing more than 40% local market share in milk. Challenges for each sector were also discussed as well as the way forward for each industry. One notable initiative is the formation of Dairy Board as well as Meat Board to look into the challenges and strategies to increase local production and boost self-sufficiency level to 30-50%. There’s also initiative to produce maize locally to replace up to 30% imported corn as Malaysia is currently a net importer for corn used for feed production for livestock.

The next presentation was by Dr Faez Firdaus Jesse Abdullah with the title of Transformational Ruminant Farming Practice: Holistic Herd Health Protocols for Prudent Antibiotics and Drug Use. Dr Faez is a Ruminant lecturer from UPM who is also involved in many researches and collaborative initiatives to improve ruminant industry status from the perspective of ruminant health. Dr Faez introduced the concept of herd health program from textbook definition as well as his own interpretation of it. Herd health program is a very broad management concept, which covers from nutrition, recording, sanitary, vaccination program and many more. He highlighted that herd health program and management in such a strong component in ruminant farming that if the farmer fails to plan, it can translate to planning to fail. Extensive discussion was shared in terms of common ruminant diseases where the abuse of systemic antibiotics can be avoided by proper prevention through good herd health management as well as usage of topical antibiotics and NSAIDS. Dr Faez also encouraged more private sector involvement in providing professional veterinary care and urging farmers to implement good recording practice.

The next speaker from Belgium, Ir. Gil De Clercq from Impextraco shared about the benefits of Coated Calcium Butyrate in Gut Health. He introduced the different types of organic acids before he narrowed down specifically to the molecule of butyric acid’s benefits. It is well recognized that butyric acid is an energy source for the epithelial cells and villi, improving gut morphology and absorption of nutrients in the small intestines. He also explored the coating importance to protect from immediate absorption in the upper tract and a slower, gradual sustained release in the target organ. Differentiation was also made between coating of sodium butyrate and calcium butyrate, with the conclusion of calcium butyrate as the better choice due to the higher percentage of available butyrate.

One of the hot agenda of the day: International Policies and Trends on Antimicrobial Usage was presented by Dr. Pushpanathan from Elanco. The scope of presentation revolves around today’s realities, the terminologies and science, international legislative and regulatory as well as global path forward. Today’s reality is that there is an urgent window of time to produce enough food for the increasing demand from growing middle class, with limitation of resource. This has lead to increasing collaboration on One Health platform for sustainability in food production, especially with increasing threat on AMR. Dr Nathan subsequently defined and distinguished between antimicrobials and antibiotics. Antimicrobials is the broadest term used, refers to any type of product that has activity against a variety of microorganisms, which can include bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Antibiotics are a type of antimicrobial, specifically, antibiotics are, in most cases, compounds produced by a fungus or another microorganism that kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause disease in humans or animals. Categories of antibiotics are also explained, based on how they can be used. Medically important antibiotics (MIA) for human medicine includes human only antibiotics as well as human and animal antibiotics (shared class), whereas non medically important antibiotics for human medicine are animal only antibiotics. Risk of AMR through foodborne transfer is biologically possible, but more studies need to be done on the risk assessment on the extent of transfer due to the many layers and hurdles in the transfer from farm to affected humans. WHO List of Antibiotic Resistant Infections of Concern to Human Health was also shared. Out of the 12 bacteria, there were 2 with concern on animal production which were the fluoroquinolone resistant Campylobacter and Salmonella. Next, Dr Nathan distinguished between residues, where small amounts of substance that remains in animal tissues and potentially entering food chain through consumption, where parameter such as Maximum Residue level (MRL) is in place to safeguard food safety. Whereas, resistance is defined as loss of susceptibility of a microorganism to the treatment by a specific antimicrobial, and have to be measured through risk analysis and assessment. He also shared the Denmark experience where the antibiotic growth promoter (AGP) has been phased out and has resulted in increased usage of therapeutic antibiotics by 65%, where the pig production only increased 35%. There’s also increased use of heavy metals, which are not categorized as antibiotics. Another EU sharing of a report done by UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on UK Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy has found “Increasing scientific evidence suggests that the clinical issues with antimicrobial resistance that we face in human medicine are primarily the result of antibiotic use in people, rather than the use of antibiotics in animals.” Dr Nathan then shared on the EU and US Veterinary Drugs/Feed additives approval differences. In EU, veterinary medicines for therapeutics (treatment and/or prevention, including medicated feeds) are regulated by European Medicines Agency (EMA)-Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products (CVMP) and will require veterinary prescription. Whereas for feed additives and coccidiostats that are “not antibiotics”, they are regulated by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and no veterinary oversight required. In US, veterinary medicine is regulated by US Food and Drug Center for Veterinary Medicines (FDA CVM). Veterinary medicines are categorized as medically important for human medicine, which requires veterinary prescription, and also as not medically important for human medicine, where no veterinary oversight is required. Coming back to usage and prioritization for use of antibiotics in animals based on the WHO critically important list, the first option for use shall be antibiotics currently not used in humans. The shared class antibiotics shall be used under veterinary oversight only for therapeutics uses (treatment, control and prevention) from the order of important, highly important and critically important listings. This kind of prioritization and categorizations can provide regulatory authorities guidance into risk management decisions relative to approval and controls on uses, for the right path forward.

The crowd then adjourned for lunch and came back to another session of sharing by DVS officers. The first session by Dr Sabariah binti Ismail, the Deputy Director and Head of Section for Quarantine and Import Export, DVS shared on the Import and Export Regulations for Livestock in Malaysia. Dr Sabariah detailed the regulations explicitly, with emphasis on the role between DVS and Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services (MAQIS). For importation, DVS will perform the risk analysis to grant approval letter for registration of importer and MAQIS will be issuing the permit for importation and performing the inspection at entry point. For exportation, DVS will perform inspection based on Malaysian Good Agricultural Practices (MyGAP) to issue veterinary health cert and perform registration of exporter. MAQIS will be the body to issue the permit for exportation then after. The function of the Section and regulations governing the import and export for livestocks in Malaysia is important to ensure proper risk analysis is performed so that no hazardous live animals/produce are imported into the country as well as to ensure smooth trade relationship and market access for exportation. More information on the regulations can also be obtained from DVS website.

The second session by DVS is on the Use of Salmonella Vaccine in Poultry: The Do’s and Don’ts, presented by Dr Norlida Othman, Deputy Director and Head of Section for Disease Control and Eradication. Dr Norlida presented an overview of Salmonellosis as a zoonotic public health disease and the data on Salmonella isolates in Malaysian poultry farms as well as Salmonella isolates from meat. She also emphasized on using the multi-pronged approach to control Salmonellosis and prevent the contamination of Salmonella from farm to food chain. Dr Norlida then shared on Salmonella vaccinations using the available registered inactivated and live Salmonella vaccines in Malaysia. She elaborated extensively on the rationale and intended usage of vaccines, the advantages and disadvantages of both live and inactivated vaccines as well as the vaccination regime recommended in both breeder and layer chickens.

After the final topic and sharing, the seminar concluded with a thank you speech from the Chairman, as well as tokens of appreciations presented to all the speakers who have generously contributed their knowledge and expertise during the seminar. It is hoped that with this seminar, all relevant livestock industry stakeholders have gained valuable insights that will help to face the challenges and move us forward in a more holistic way for future transformation in the era of globalization.