Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2021: Kerala case study shows how ethnoveterinary practices can curb AMR in livestock

Ethnoveterinary practices are more cost-effective than allopathic treatment; it also allows farmers to monitor the process

By KC James
Published: Tuesday 23 November 2021

Livestock production is crucial for the nutritional well-being of people in India. The dairy sector supports the livelihoods of many farmers and contributes to the economy of the country.

India is one of the primary consumers of antibiotics; antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) bacteria are a major public health concern. Antimicrobial-resistant bacteria can be transferred from animals to humans either through direct contact or contaminated food, or indirectly through a contaminated environment.

Antimicrobial resistance causes nearly 700,000 deaths annually across the world. Every country is potentially affected. If not properly addressed, the number could grow to 10 million per year by 2050, making it deadlier than cancer.

AMR occurs when bacteria and other microbes become less susceptible to antibiotics used to treat infections caused by them. The overuse and misuse of antibiotics accelerate the process of antibiotic resistance. Resistant bacteria then spread via healthcare-acquired infections.

It is usually the improper use of antimicrobials in livestock that gathers attention; medicines with a lower dose of active ingredients may also lead to resistance.

Malabar Milk Union, therefore, formulated organised strategies to address the menace. The body ensures broad access to affordable herbal medicines and funds for the development of new treatments covered under ethnoveterinary medicine, besides proper stewardship of existing antimicrobial treatments.

Strategies framed at Malabar Milk Union to curb AMR

The union collects around eight litres of milk every day from more than 0.1 million farmers. Most farmers rear hybrid cows, whose susceptibility to diseases such as mastitis is high.

The union started work on framing strategies from 2018 onwards. They are elaborated in the table below:

Description   Year of operation
  2018-2019   2019-2020   2020-2021
  • Enforcing judicious use of antimicrobials for treating commonly occurring clinical infections in cattle.
  • Advocating ethnoveterinary medicines in replacement of traditional allopathic antimicrobial drugs.
  • Reducing the cost of milk production through limiting the expenses incurred towards using the allopathic antimicrobial drugs.
  • Controlling the antimicrobial residues excreted through milk.  
Modus operandi
  • The above-mentioned goals are strategically enforced and achieved with the help of village resource persons (VRP).
  • All VRPs are educated about ethnoveterinary medicines and ethnoveterinary practices.
  • Selected interested VRPs are being properly trained at Sabarkantha District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union, Gujarat, on the compounding of ethnoveterinary medicines and implementing ethnoveterinary practices.
  • Installed ethnoveterinary medicines compounding unit at Mananthavady, Wayanad district.  
Number of clinical cases treated through ethnoveterinary practices    Mastitis – 150 cases Diarrhea – 258 cases Pyrexia – 200 cases  

 Mastitis – 1,916
Diarrhea – 2,202
Pyrexia – 1,634 Immunity boosting bolus - 6,350 cases

 Mastitis – 1,271
Diarrhea – 650
Pyrexia – 698
Immunity boosting bolus – 3,628 


  • Cost-effective compared to conventional allopathic treatments. A 10-day course of ethnoveterinary medicines for subclinical mastitis treatment costs Rs 200. Conventional allopathic treatment for the same time ranges from Rs 2,000-Rs 4,000.
  • The practice ensures zero antimicrobial residual effect in milk.
  • Help prevent further severity of clinical infections.
  • Farmers prepare and administer the medicines themselves. So they are able to adequately monitor the process.
  • Ethnoveterinary practices help reduce the cost of production.


  • Farmers do not completely rely on or trust the practice yet.
  • It is time-consuming. Instant effect as exhibited by the conventional allopathic treatments may not be possible here.
  • Difficult to practice on animals with acute clinical cases. However, a judicious combination of both allopathic and ethnoveterinary practices may be required for lowering the antimicrobial residual effect in milk.
  • The practice can be laborious for farmers since they have to prepare and administer the medicines themselves.

In this current financial year 2021-2022, the application process of appropriate drug license for the manufacturing 10 types of ethnoveterinary medicines — Masticure, Pyrexcare, Immunoboost, Cough Out, Crack Heal, Diar End, Rumotore, Heal All, Milklet and Flyrepel — is under progress in association with the Kerala Ayurvedic Co-operative Society.

The medicines will be distributed across Kerala under the brand name Milma Vet once it obtains the drug license to do so.

KC James is general manager, Malabar Milk Union

Views expressed are the author's own and don't necessarily reflect those of Down To Earth

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