Antimicrobial Usage

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The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is actively engaged with livestock farmers, vets and supply-chain stakeholders in building sustainable animal health and encouraging the responsible use of all medicines to ensure good health and welfare of farmed animals.

The farming industry has an important part to play in managing antimicrobial resistance and significant progress has already been made to ensure the livestock sectors’ contribution is comprehensive and all-embracing.

AHDB works with livestock farmers to promote disease-prevention methods such as vaccination, biosecurity and improved management and housing to reduce the need for antibiotics on farms by preventing and eliminating disease. AHDB encourages professionals, such as vets, to work closely with farmers in order to best manage animal health issues and to minimise the need for all medicines. We also believe that animal welfare is paramount and therefore continue to support the use of antibiotics and other veterinary medicines where necessary.

AHDB also supports the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) in promoting responsible and prudent use of antibiotics in livestock and in helping the industry to progress animal-health matters. AHDB has helped coordinate the Targets Task Force groups for sheep and beef, which identify meaningful objectives to reduce, refine or replace antibiotic use in all livestock sectors, while also supporting the Dairy Antimicrobial Stewardship Group led by the milk buyers.

AHDB is working on behalf of the industry to provide independent data sets on antibiotic use in livestock production to enable trends to be identified and, ultimately, usage targets to be monitored. This currently includes an eMedicines Book (eMB) for the pork industry and are currently considering the possibility of similar options for other livestock sectors. Other examples of AHDB’s extensive programmes of work to improve animal health include the Mastitis Control Plan in the dairy sector and, in the beef sector, promoting the use of vaccination policies alongside good management practices and housing design to reduce cases of respiratory disease in cattle.

AHDB's overarching priorities are to inspire British farming and growing to be more competitive and resilient, and to accelerate innovation and productivity growth through coordinated research and development and the associated knowledge exchange.

In line with the recommendations made by the O’Neill Report, the ‘One Health’ approach envisages a collaborative approach to reducing the risk of resistance developing from bacteria exposed to antibiotics in people, in animals or in the environment. AHDB believes that improving the health and welfare of livestock will reduce the need for the use of antibiotics and will therefore reduce the risk of widespread AMR developing.

For further information about antibiotic use and the agricultural sector, visit:

Farm Antibiotics; presenting the facts http://www.farmantibiotics.org/

One Health Initiative: www.onehealthinitiative.com

VARSS report 2015 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/veterinary-antimicrobial-resistance-and-sales-surveillance-2015