The dairy sector has identified meaningful objectives for reducing, replacing or refining antibiotic use.
They include halving use of the highest-priority Critically Important Antibiotics (HP-CIAs) by 2020, and reducing total antibiotic use across dairy farming by 20% by 2020. This means a reduction from an estimated baseline of 26.2mg/kg in 2016 to 21mg/kg in 2020.
Other targets include reductions in use of intra-mammary tubes to treat clinical mastitis, and an increase in use of teat sealants at drying off, indicating a swing to less use of dry cow therapy.
2017 usage data from a sample of dairy cattle comprising 31% of the national dairy herd has been reported as 17mg/kg, with HP-CIAs at 0.6mg/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.
New metrics to measure antibiotic use on-farm were confirmed in 2018. It was agreed these would both total usage and overall usage of Highest Priority Critically Important
Antibiotics (HP-CIAs), as defined by the Antimicrobial Advice Ad Hoc Expert Group (AMEG), would be measured. These would be captured as 1) mg/Population Correction Unit (PCU); 2) Average number of antibiotic courses per dairy cow for dry cow therapy, and 3) Average number of antibiotic courses per dairy cow for lactating cow therapy. More information is available at www.chawg.org.uk.