Context: Due to the conditions of modern industrial pig fattening in intensive livestock farms, 24% to 69% of the animals become ill. The antibiotic metaphylaxis that is routinely administered leads to several problems in animals, human health, and the environment.
Objective: To investigate whether a homeopathic metaphylaxis is effective and potentially useful for replacing antibiotic metaphylaxis.
Design: Animal subjects were divided into groups of 10 per pen, 2 pens sharing 1 trough. Twenty pigs were randomly assigned within a stall and were administered either antibiotics, homeopathy, or placebo.
Setting: A typical intensive livestock farm in Northern Germany.
Participants: 1440 piglets.
Intervention: Homeopathic metaphylaxis is compared with placebo, the routine low-dose antibiotic metaphylaxis, and an antibiotic metaphylaxis in therapeutic dosage.
Main outcome measures: Incidence of diseases in general and of diseases of the respiratory tract.
Results: Homeopathic metaphylaxis is significantly effective compared with placebo and routine low-dose antibiotic metaphylaxis for incidence of disease and rate of disease of the respiratory tract among the animals studied. Only by increasing the dosage of antibiotics to a therapeutic level does antibiotic metaphylaxis surpass homeopathic metaphylaxis.
Conclusions: An unacceptably high percentage of pigs in modern livestock management become ill, suffering mainly from diseases of the respiratory tract. The routine antibiotic dosage of metaphylaxis is too low to be effective. As a result, the problems of resistance and danger to human health and the environment are increasing. To confirm whether antibiotic metaphylaxis may be replaced by homeopathic metaphylaxis, this study should be repeated independently.