THE UK’s antibiotic sales to livestock rose by 1.5mg/kg in 2019, the second-lowest level since reporting began, with only 2018 lower.

It means that the UK retains its position as the lowest user of antibiotics of all European countries that have significant livestock production, and fifth lowest overall.

See also: Poultrymeat antibiotic use targets to remain unchanged

Sales for use on food-producing animals was 31mg/kg in 2019, compared with 29.5mg/kg in 2018.

Overall, there has been a 45% reduction in antibiotic sales for livestock farming since 2015 (56.8mg/kg), according to the UK government’s latest report covering sales of antibiotics and resistance levels.

Peter Borriello, chief executive of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, said that the use of critically important antibiotics also remained low.

“The veterinary profession and livestock sectors have kept up the momentum of delivering against the targets they set and published in 2017, which have played a hugely important part of the change we’ve seen towards responsible use of antibiotics.”


Antibiotics use in the broiler sector was up 5mg/kg, and for
turkeys the figure was down 4.7mg/kg in 2019, compared with 2018.

The British Poultry Council said in a statement: “BPC Antibiotic Stewardship continues to ensure the sustainable and responsible use of antibiotics and deliver excellence in bird health and welfare.

“Clinical governance means that Highest Priority Critically Important Antibiotics are used only as a last resort, and this is highlighted by the ongoing reductions in fluoroquinolones to just 0.01 mg/kg overall in 2019.

Disease challenges

“The turkey and duck sectors reduced their total antibiotic use in 2019, although disease challenges in the broiler sector meant that antibiotic usage increased overall.

“We are investigating the reason(s) behind this increase, and maintaining our focus on sharing best practice and the 3 Rs i.e. Replacing antibiotics (looking at alternatives where available).

“Reducing disease and the need to treat and Refining control strategies, supported by the principles of animal husbandry, hygiene and stockmanship.”