Antibiotic use in veal calves -bull calves originating from dairy farm- in the Netherlands is very high. With the young calves (2-6 weeks) diarrhoea is a big problem. This diarrhoea results in less overall growth and animal welfare. Pathogens will always be around to some extent, only the weaker animals will be hit by those pathogens and become sick. Due to all the changes already in the first weeks of life -like moving from the dairy farm where they were born to the veal farm and simultaneously a changed ration- veal calves have a high stress level and thus a low immune systems which makes them very susceptible for the pathogens: in this time the body is out of balance and has to be stabilized again. At the same time, excessive use of antibiotics continues to increase antibiotic immunity.

The use of Ayurvedic herbs has been shown to be effective in both dairy cows and calves in India.If such herbs could also be effective to help prevent diarrhoea in calves in the Dutch circumstances (modern farming), it would both reduce the use of antibiotics and increase health and welfare of the calves. This would be a great advance in the course of the (inter)national aim for antibiotic reduction in livestock farming.

Ayevedic herbs
In April 2014, a group of veterinarians from Overijssel went to India to participate in an exchange program focused on antibiotic reduction in dairy farming; a project founded an sponsored by Oxfam Novib. For centuries India has been making use of their knowledge about the use of medicinal plants, which have been documented very well. Within the institute of Ayurveda and Integrated Complementary Medicine (I-AIM) various traditional recipes were tested on and have proven to be working. During the visit the veterinarians learned a whole lot about the medicinal plants which have been edified by the institute of Ayurveda in cooperation with the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Science University (TANUVAS). The recipe of the herbal mixture used for this proof is discovered by Dr. N. Punniamurthy, an Indian professor and head of TANUVAS.

End of August 2015 the test was carried out (preventive) by Lilian Raeijmaeckers. This research is in collaboration with the Province of Overijssel, VKON and Biochemproducts BV.