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Use of Antibiotics in Livestock Farming Continues to Drop

by 5m Editor
25 June 2012, at 9:49am

NETHERLANDS - The policy objective of a 20 per cent reduction in the use of antibiotics in the years 2009-2011 has been achieved with flying colours. This is the conclusion drawn from new figures relating to the veterinary use of antibiotics published by LEI Wageningen UR.

One of the benefits of the considerable decline in the veterinary use of antibiotics is the favourable implications for public health as the risk of the development of resistance is then smaller.

Trends in use per sector

In the pig and broiler sector, the use of antibiotics has declined considerably. On the basis of the random sample, the decrease in use within the veal calf sector in 2009-2011 was a little under 20 per cent, but a decrease had already been achieved in this area before 2009. In the dairy farming sector, the use of antibiotics has remained fairly stable and at a relatively low level. The randomly selected farms have shown the following trends over the years 2005-2011:

  • sows/piglets: annual fluctuation; decrease in 2010 and 2011;
  • fattening pigs: increase up until 2008, decrease in 2009-2011;
  • broilers: increase up until 2009, decrease in 2010 and 2011;
  • veal calves: decrease in 2007-2011;
  • dairy cattle: annual fluctuation, decrease in 2011.

More than 50 per cent of all the randomly selected farms have antibiotics use below the targets set for 2011 by the Animal Drug Authority (Autoriteit Diergeneesmiddelen, SDa). Fewer than 10 per cent of the farms have usage levels above the signalling value and/or action value.

Total sales 32 per cent lower

In the period from 2009 to the end of 2011, total sales of antibiotics in Dutch livestock farming dropped by almost 32 per cent, from 495 tonnes in 2009 to 338 tonnes in 2011. In comparison with 2007, when sales were at there highest level, the decrease is 40 per cent. This is demonstrated by the sales figures provided by FIDIN, the Dutch federation of the veterinary pharmaceutical industry.

Follow-up study

This November, at the request of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, LEI will publish a report on the use of antibiotics in the first six months of 2012.

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.