ANTIBIOTIC USE in the British poultrymeat sector has risen for a second year running, predominantly driven by higher use in broiler production.

Last year, the sector as a whole used 19.7mg/pcu compared with 16.2mg/pcu in 2018. The lowest amount on record was in 2017, at 14.4 overall.

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Chicken accounts for the majority of poultrymeat production. Last year 17.5mg/pcu of antibiotics were used to treat broilers, compared with 12.4mg/pcu the year before.

The British Poultry Council said the rise was a result of disease challenges.

The duck sector’s antibiotic use has remained relatively stable, at 1.7mg/pcu last year compared with 1.8mg/pcu in 2018.

Use in turkeys has dropped from a high of 219.5mg/pcu in 2014 to 42mg/pcu last year.

Seven-year decline

Over the past seven years, the sector has reduced its total antibiotic use by 76% and achieved a 97.3% reduction in the use of critically important antibiotics.

Despite the recent rises, the poultrymeat sector remains under government-approved targets for antibiotic use (25mg/pcu for chicken and 50 mg/pcu for turkeys).

Tackling antimicrobial resistance

A spokesman said: “The British poultry meat sector stands committed to upholding the UK’s position at the forefront of international efforts to keep antibiotics effective for future generations and tackling antimicrobial resistance.

“UK poultry meat producers have stopped all preventative treatments, and the highest priority antibiotics that are critically important for humans are used only as a ‘last resort’ for chickens and turkeys.

“Through more coordinated action between poultry farmers, veterinarians, producers as well as policymakers at local, regional, national and global levels, we will continue to preserve the efficacy of our antibiotics and contribute to turning the tide against antimicrobial resistance.”