The UK beef sector has identified meaningful objectives for reducing, replacing or refining antibiotic use.
One of the biggest challenges is availability of data to indicate what current usage is; however, the sector is estimated to be a relatively low user, albeit with ‘hotspots’, such as in calf rearing and youngstock, and especially with respiratory disease. For this reason, adequate data collection is a major target.
However, the sector has set a target of a 10% reduction or reaching 10mg/kg by 2020, whichever is lower. The sector will also aim to halve use of the highest priority Critically Important Antibiotics (HP-CIAs) by 2020.
2017 usage data from a small sample of cattle comprising 6% of the national beef herd has been reported as 19mg/kg, with HP-CIAs at 0.3mg/kg.
The sector has also identified that monitoring uptake of preventative measures, such as vaccinations for respiratory disease, could provide a useful indicator of potential antibiotic reduction. A new vaccination report from AHDB shows that vaccination levels in cattle are increasing.