A Nuffield Scholarship leads to a Public Health England award for reduced antibiotic use in agriculture.

Pruex have been commended by Public Health England for an Antibiotic Guardian Award within the Animal Health, Agriculture and Food Supply section.

The awards took place on the 27th of June 2019, at the St Johns Hotel, Solihull, Birmingham and are a way of championing those organisations and individuals who have demonstrated achievement in tackling antimicrobial resistance at a local, regional or national level.

 Aled Rhys Davies of Pruex being presented his antibiotic guardian award by Dr Diane Ashiru, Lead Pharmacist, Antimicrobial Resistance Programme - Public Health England, Christine Middlemiss, UK Chief Vet, and Claire Hughes, Head of Corporate Affairs at AB Agri, the company that kindly sponsored the category.

“I’m absolutely delighted for this recognition. We look to inspire positive change in agriculture by showing farmers what they can do to limit the risk of bacterial infections on farm.” said Aled Rhys Davies who founded Pruex as a result of conducting a Nuffield Farming Scholarship sponsored by the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society looking at Alternatives to Antibiotics in Agriculture. He travelled to countries in Europe, Australasia and Northern America looking at antibiotics use amongst the fish, pig, poultry, dairy, beef and sheep sectors.


“To win the battle against Anti Microbial Resistance(AMR), we need to be innovative, and our farmers, the public and our establishment need an open mind.”

My journey began on the………Ninth of October 2014, I was concentrating in an attempt to understand the accent of a professor from Bonn University during the 4th International Fresenius Conference on European Union animal feed legislation, in Cologne, Germany when my phone started bouncing and vibrating loudly on the desk in front of me. I had received a text for my wife. It read, in Welsh, our native tongue, “You’ve had the scholarship”. I fumbled a reply, conscious that everybody in the spacious auditorium had heard my so called silent message arrive, and as a consequence all had one eye on my activities. “I don’t know, I haven’t heard anything yet”. Another aggressive, vibrating interruption soon followed, “No, you’ve had the scholarship, there’s a letter here from the Chairman of the Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust, saying that you have been awarded a scholarship to study Alternatives to Antibiotics in Agriculture.This second text got all of my attention. I replied without thinking, “fantastic, speak later.x” My heart started racing, I was experiencing a mixture of emotions including total joy, excitement, relief and panic. Then a third text, again from my wife congratulating me on my achievement, at which point my heart nearly melted.

By the time I got home the Nuffield letter was stuck to our fridge by one of my nine year old daughters’ ladybird shaped magnets. This was usually the domain of her latest work of art, ensuring that any visitor to our kitchen would have a great view of her masterpiece. I knew then that she approved. My twelve year old boy simply winked at me. What more could a father ask for? There is simply no greater honour. A deep sense of pride and responsibility followed when I learned that my sponsor was the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, (RWAS). I will always be grateful to the Society for investing in my scholarship and am determined to lead agriculture in the fight against AMR.

I studied the use of antibiotics in the fish, pig, poultry, dairy, beef and sheep sectors throughout Europe, Australasia and Northern America. I learned that all sectors faced bacterial infections of livestock, and most animals were sick, not necessarily clinically unwell, but infected nevertheless. What was shocking was the realisation that our husbandry and hygiene practices at best maintained disease as opposed to preventing its’ occurrence. As farmers, we have taken animals out of nature and put them in buildings. We haven’t been good at taking nature with them. So, the air they breathe is dominated with faecal bacteria, as is the water they drink and the feed they consume. Antibiotics have allowed us to do this. In the wild the animals would be surrounded by soil bacteria that wouldn’t make them sick. In our buildings they’re surrounded by faecal bacteria that can infect them. I realised that the human race needs to innovate to enable healthy animals to thrive as opposed to enabling the generation of markets for new medicines developed with the aim of treating symptoms. We simply need to get at the source of problems. In other words, we need to introduce more nature into our modern farming practices.

As a direct result of conducting my RWAS sponsored Nuffield study, I set up Pruex Ltd, which stands for Prudent as opposed to Excessive antibiotic use, with the aim of leading the fight against AMR. We use innovative technologies to limit the threat of micro organism infections of livestock. Our work is split into three categories, Find, Fix and Tell.

Find - We visit farms to take swabs in order to gain a value of the extent of contamination within the animals’ direct environment. We test the air, water and bedding so that we know which colonies of bacteria the animals are facing.

Fix - Based on the evidence generated within the Find process, we devise hygiene plans using bacteria to clean. The bacteria we use are soil borne and are added to water and bedding. We do the opposite to what farmers do when they take slurry out to their fields. After some three weeks, the soil flora will have overcome the faecal bacterial loading within the slurry. We put soil bacteria in the animals’ environment without adding dirt. The bacteria we use become dominant, so the animals are surrounded by non infected bacteria whilst housed.

Tell - We communicate the good work done in agriculture to limit the need for antibiotics with consumers.

The aim of this innovative process is to limit the need for antibiotics. Healthy animals don’t need antibiotics. We had no idea at the start that there would be such large increases in production as a result of reducing the burden of infective bacteria on our food producing animals.

Pride is the main emotion driving Pruex. We are delighted with the results we’re achieving on farm. Andrew Brewer milks 700 Autumn calving cows on a once a day milking system in Cornwall. The cows are bedded on a deep litter of sawdust and access forage from a self feed clamp. We’re delighted to report that there were no cases of calf scour or pneumonia during last years’ calving season, the farm has reduced antibiotic treatment for mastitis by over 70% and has seen a 40% reduction in bedding cost.

James Ford produces quality free range eggs in the Vale of Glamorgan. His hens were challenged by Necrotic Enteritis, and would soon relapse post antibiotic treatment. Post the use of Pruex, the hens recovered and production increased from 7% below egg laying targets to 10% above.

Joint Ill was a Problem managed by antibiotics at Mathew Isaac’s farm in Glamorgan. No cases have been reported nor treated with antibiotics in the last two years since the farm have adopted Pruex hygiene principals.

Based on the research and development conducted over the last two years of commercial activity, Pruex has some very economically taxing farm diseases within its focus. Digital Dermatitis, Tuberculosis and Johnes disease in cattle, the human food poisoning issues associated with Campylobacter as well as human allergies are all issues being studied and modulated.

Personally, Pruex has enabled, via a  sponsorship package that includes the supply of hand washing stations at the Royal Welsh show ground, me to repay the society the money they provided as sponsorship of my Nuffield Scholarship. The work conducted by Pruex, as a result of that study is inspiring positive change in agriculture. At the time of writing, we have worked with over six hundred farms to reduce their need for antibiotics.


Aled Rhys Davies NSch