THE POULTRYMEAT sector’s industry-set targets for antibiotic use will remain unchanged following a review of medicines use in farming.

The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) sets industry-led, sector-specific targets for antibiotic reduction across livestock species.

See also: Chicken drove rise in antibiotic use in poultry last year

It first set targets in 2017, expecting to achieve them by the end of 2020.

Now, the group has agreed to another set of targets to be achieved by 2024.

For the poultrymeat sector, the 2017-2020 targets were to keep use below 25mg/pcu for broilers and 50mg/pcu in turkeys.

Use in ducks is so low that no target was set.

76% down

Ruma’s report said that, although in the past two years usage had risen, the poultrymeat sector has cut antibiotic use overall by 76% since 2012.

It added that the use of Highest Priority Critically Important Antibiotics had dropped significantly, despite not being a specific target.

For example, the use of fluoroquinolones is down 97% since 2012.


The report recommends that the targets remain unchanged, but that they will be reviewed in 2021 when the data for 2020 becomes available.

It says that the poultrymeat sector was “committed to upholding the UK’s position at the forefront of international efforts to keep antibiotics effective for future generations and tackling antimicrobial resistance”.

The next steps will be to analyse why there has been a rise in use over the past two years and to identify any persistent high users within businesses.

Open and transparent

“The sector will continue to be open and transparent in its antibiotic usage, identify high users and develop farm action plans to drive change with veterinary and management input,” the report concludes.

RUMA chair Cat McLaughlin said: “The UK farming industry has responded extremely well to the targets.

“Our original aim of lowering overall antibiotic use, and in particular highest-priority critically important antibiotics (HP-CIAs), has been categorically achieved in the face of some challenging external conditions.


“Most sectors are now capturing data on antibiotic use across 90% or more of their sector, which has been a key part of the success.

“Even where usage data is lacking, but good sales data are available, for example, in cattle and sheep, sizable reductions have been achieved, especially in sales of HP-CIAs.”


Professor Peter Borriello CB, chief executive of the VMD, welcomed the report.

He said: “The ambition now outlined in this report, alongside the proactive, holistic approaches and focus on behaviour change principles gives me every confidence that they will once again succeed.

“We look forward to working with the sectors as we continue on this endeavour, which will ultimately be of benefit to the reputation of the UK livestock sectors as well as helping to protect human and animal health.”

The full report can be accessed on RUMA’s website.