Game sector organisations have been working with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, RUMA and their own sector’s specialist vets on continued antibiotic reduction.
Voluntary monitoring of all antibiotic use in game birds began in 2016.
The Game Farmers’ Association called a meeting of specialist game bird vets and feed compounders in May 2017 to prepare for antibiotic reductions in the summer game rearing season.
The targets set by the game bird sector and announced in October 2017 were to cut usage by 25% in 2017 as a total tonnage, but also achieve a similar reduction in use of highest priority CIAs over the same time period. Following that, the aim is to then reduce tonnages by a further 25% between 2018 and 2020.
Subsequent to this, data from the 2017 rearing season was collected. An early capture of data was possible due to the main timing for antibiotics treatments in game birds being the spring and summer season. It was announced in October 2017 that antibiotic use in game birds was brought down by 36% in 2017 compared with 2016, including a 53% reduction for those antibiotics administered in game bird food.
A year later, the 2018 rearing results show another reduction, this time of 24%. This means that in the two years since the gamebird sector rolled out its voluntary campaign to reduce antibiotics, overall use has fallen by 51%, with antibiotic use in gamebird feed slashed by 70%.
Use of fluoroquinolones, the only HP-CIA used in the gamebird sector, fell in 2017 but rose again in 2018; the cause for this is being investigated.
As the target has effectively been reached two years early, the sector is currently examining what new targets should be set to continue its drive for responsible use.