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.
A new consultation has been launched to determine which of four options will provide the most effective and practical measure of antibiotic use in the beef sector. The four options have been developed by the antimicrobial use sub group of the Cattle Health and Welfare Group, with the consultation open until 23 August 2019. Consultation documents and a webinar link can be found at www.chawg.org.uk, and the press release about the consultation can be found here.