Progress in UK Farming

Total sales of antibiotics

This reduction is between 2016 and 2017, and was announced on 24 October 2018 by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) in its Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance (VARSS) 2017 annual report. The result is that average sales reduced from 45mg/kg (Population Correction Unit – equivalent to kg) in 2016, to 37mg/kg in 2017, with a 40% drop in total over the past five years.

This is a record low in the UK and makes the UK one of the lowest users of antibiotic to treat farm animals in Europe.

Source: VARSS 2017

The report also shows sales of HP-CIAs fell by 29% between 2016 and 2017. Colistin use is now negligible at sales of 0.001mg/kg. Sales of fluoroquinolones for food-producing animals reduced by 30% to 0.16mg/PCU, and 3rd & 4th generation cephalosporins are down by 21% to 0.12mg/PCU.

Source: VARSS 2017

For context, highest priority CIAs form a small part of total sales of antibiotics.

Source: VARSS 2017


Antibiotic use in each sector

An update of progress in reducing, refining or replacing use of antibiotics in each sector was published on 16 November 2018.  The ‘Targets Task Force: One Year On’ report details what is happening in each sector and has a handy summary at the back.

Sector-specific targets for antibiotic usage were originally published in 2017 by the key livestock sectors via RUMA’s Targets Task Force, which was responsible for developing these targets in consultation with each sector. The targets are summarised in a short film and press release, and detailed in the Target Task Force report.

When comparing the types of antibiotics used to treat infections and disease in farm animals in the UK, alongside those used to treat human conditions, they tend to differ. The most recent comparison was undertaken in 2015 in the One Health report, which used 2013 data. Here, it was shown that animal use of antibiotics was around 44% of UK use, but this includes pets. Farm animal use would have been closer to 36%. it is thought that farm animal use will now be below 30%. The next One Health report is due out early 2019.


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Farm Antibiotics