Animal disease: Use of antibiotics in fatteni...
Animal disease

Use of antibiotics in fattening animals declining

Imago / IPON
Germany’s antibiotics minimisation strategy aims to reduce the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry to counteract the development of resistance in germs that can spread to humans.
Germany’s antibiotics minimisation strategy aims to reduce the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry to counteract the development of resistance in germs that can spread to humans.

GERMANY, Berlin. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) found that antibiotics are used less and less in fattening animals. Furthermore, the number of animals that tested positive for antibiotic-resistant germs at the abattoir also declined.

According to a press release, the institute conducted a report on "Treatment Frequency and Antibiotic Consumption Quantities 2018-2021: Trends in Cattle, Pigs, Chickens and Turkeys Kept for Meat Production". The BfR is tasked with evaluating the annual data on antibiotic use provided by the German federal states and performing a risk assessment of antibiotic resistance. In its report, the BfR compared data from 2018 to 2021 about antibiotic use in 2017.

"The good news is that the overall consumption of antibiotics is declining in the farm animal species considered, albeit with fluctuations," said Professor Dr. Annemarie Käsbohrer, Head of the Epidemiology, Zoonoses and Antimicrobial Resistance Unit, who prepared the report.

"However, this decrease differs between animal categories and does not reflect the observed decrease in consumption. We need to obtain a better understanding of the resistance behaviour of germs and intensify efforts to reduce it in order to be able to achieve a long-term drop in the resistance rate," said Käsbohrer.

In its evaluation, the BfR focused on different parameters. Frequency and quantities of given antibiotics in a six-month period were assessed in connection to the species of the animal. Among the zero-user farms, about 85% were fattening cattle. Therefore, the consumption quantities were also negligible. The largest quantities of antibiotics were still used in fattening pigs, followed by piglets, turkeys, chickens, and calves.

In most cases, the average frequency of antibiotic administration among individual farms exhibited a decreasing trend, although higher values were found in individual half-years. However, a clear upward trend can be seen in fattening broiler farms between 2017 and 2021. The average treatment frequency at the farm level increased by 4.8 days.

Due to new regulations on antibiotic monitoring stipulating mandatory documentation of antibiotic use in farm animals, the BfR will evaluate how treatment frequency and consumption quantities develop over time.

Source: The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment

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