Novel tool to monitor and reduce antibiotic use on dairy farms

by Ellen Hardy
03 January 2018, at 4:00pm

Veterinary researchers at the University of Nottingham have produced a new tool to help UK dairy vets and farmers monitor and reduce use of antibiotics in their dairy herds to help combat antimicrobial resistance in the farming industry and beyond.

It follows a new study by the Nottingham Vet School, published in Veterinary Record, showing that, in a large sample of dairy farms, 25% of farms used 50% of the total antibiotics used across all farms in a year – with antibiotic footbaths accounting for the biggest volume dispersed into the food chain. The school’s Ruminant Population Health Group has designed a new online tool – the Nottingham University Dairy Antimicrobial Usage (AMU) Calculator – that farmers and vets can use ‘in the eld’ to measure and monitor their prescribing and use of antibiotics in dairy cattle. It is a free download on the AHDB Dairy website.

This work is part of a series of practical, peer-reviewed research and accompanying tools provided by the group to help vets and farmers understand where they can really make a difference to antibiotic use on farms. This is the first peer-reviewed paper evaluating AMU in dairy herds.

Around 50 practices have begun using the calculator, but the researchers say that antimicrobial benchmarking needs to happen at a national level for the system to have maximum impact on antibiotic use in the cattle sector.