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Shared Learning Archive 2017-2019: Agriculture and Food



Provide a brief overview of your project?

International animal feed company ForFarmers is the market leader in pig feed in GB and has continued to proactively work to reduce antibiotic use in pig production by working directly with farmers, veterinarians, abattoirs and retailers. Since 2015 we have changed the nutritional composition of our diets for all life stages to enhance gut health and integrity to support improved animal health and welfare.
ForFarmers has proactively supported the Pig Industry Antibiotic Stewardship Programme to deliver the UK livestock industry’s Targets taskforce objectives to reduce AM medication from a baseline of 263.5mg/PCU in 2015 to 99mg/PCU in 2020 through delivering a nationwide series of workshops in partnership with Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. We provided practical advice to farmers on strategies to improve health thereby reducing the use of AM medication including management advice, nutritional strategies, the use of organic acid complexes and improving water quality. ForFarmers is an active participant of the pig industry electronic medicines book steering committee representing the sector.
ForFarmers has given specific focus to the nutrition and management of piglets at the time of weaning (removal from the sow).  A number of factors contribute to the disturbance of gut microbiota, often resulting the onset of Post weaning diarrhoea (PWD) and subsequent high use of medication. With nutritional innovations and the use of organic acids, ForFarmers has pioneered approaches to support improvements in gut health reducing the use of AM medication during this phase whilst reducing reliance on Zinc and high dietary copper levels.
Trials demonstrated that the same  performance could be achieved when applying this approach in the absence of ZnO without any adverse incidence of PWD. This concept will be further developed and implemented in 2019 as part of a health concept in partnership with veterinarians and pig farmers.


Cite 3 examples of outcomes or impacts from the project on tackling AMR.

  1. The joint ForFarmers/AHDB workshops were attended by over 100 producers representing a high proportion of the national pig population.
  2. 2. As the market leader in pig feed, ForFarmers significantly contributed to the 50% national reduction in antimicrobial medicine use in the pig sector from 263.5mg/PCU in2015 to 131mg/PCU in 2017 through its nutritional approaches and on farm advice.
  3. 3. At the end of 2018, the % of pig feed manufactured by ForFarmers containing medication fell by 27% compared to 2017 and by 36% compared to 2016.



How is the project to be developed in the future?

– Innovation programme focused on neonatal diarrhoea, piglet vitality and improving intestinal health.
– Hosting a 2019 international veterinary health conference to share best practice between veterinarians and nutritional innovation in the area of enhancing pig health.
– Launch of a dedicate pig health concept including nutrition solutions, analytic tools and structured advice programme combining nutrition, veterinary health plans and on farm management interventions to reduce antimicrobial medicine use.

Kite Consulting

Provide a brief overview of your project?

The Antibiotic Monitoring and Reduction Programme (AMRP), run by Kite Consulting and Solway Vets, is a cross-industry initiative developed to help monitor and reduce antibiotic usage in dairy cattle in the UK.

The AMRP has been set up in order for dairy processors to work with farmers to assess and review antibiotic usage on farm with the aim of developing an action plan to reduce usage. Farmers are involved in training on responsible antibiotic use, the benchmarking of on-farm use and preventative medicine discussions. This information is combined with the health, welfare and economic benchmarking to give a clear picture into the reasons behind antibiotic use, and the barriers to reducing use going forward.

Data on antibiotic usage is collected from the farmer’s own veterinary surgeons following a data release consent form being completed. Farmers receive individual feedback on their usage data in an easily accessible template, which highlights their performance and benchmarks it against that of their peers.
Within facilitated group discussions, producers are able to discuss the data and benefit from peer experiences. A key feature of the project is that farmers and their vets are engaged in the process right at the start, meaning both groups understand the programme and become part of the solution to any issues the data raises.

Farmers discuss their results and the implications, along with potential changes in farm management practices with their own veterinary surgeon.

Please cite 3 examples of outcomes or impacts from the project on tackling AMR.

Referencing the RUMA Targets Task Force, published November 2018, the Kite/Solway Vets collaboration issued results from the 2017-18 dataset regarding antibiotic use and overall reduction from the monitored group of farms. This information references the baseline of performance noted in June 2017, the actual mg/kg antibiotic use 12 months later and the target set by RUMA on release of the initiative.  By looking at the antibiotic procedures for intra-mammary use alone, this collaborative approach has delivered an average reduction of 0.153mg/kg below national targets (37% reduced AB use, RUMA target was 20% reduced by 2020).

One of the key things about this programme, other than the great results, is the cross-industry adoption. With milk suppliers, both large and small, engaging with the aims, methodology and outcomes of the project, we are able to demonstrate how well the industry can work together on crucial issues.

There is now database of over 1,400 farmers participating in this programme, with that number set to grow by 2020.  Collectively, the farmers produce nearly 25% of the total UK milk supply through contracts of varying degrees; across small processors with less than 20 suppliers to the largest UK processor.

How is the project to be developed in the future?

Reducing antibiotic usage continues to be a top priority for the dairy industry. Red Tractor have increased their antibiotic recording requirements and RUMA have set targets for reduced usage by 2020. Farmers already on the AMPR will continue to monitor antibiotic usage and drive usage down, through working with their vets and piers.  The plan is to roll out the AMPR to more milk producers across the industry.

National Office Animal Health (NOAH)

Provide a brief overview of your project?

The Animal Medicines Best Practice (AMBP) programme was developed by NOAH (National Office of Animal Health) in partnership with stakeholders from across the food supply chain including vets, farmers, RUMA, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, the British Retail Consortium and leading academics to create a robust farmer training programme that reflects current best practice in the responsible use of medicines.

The AMBP farmer training programme is raising awareness, knowledge and understanding of AMR and helping to drive antibiotic best practice in a consistent manner across UK farms. It is also supporting the important work of RUMA and the Targets Task Force by providing training opportunities for the livestock sectors.

Training modules have been designed specifically for dairy, beef, sheep and pig farmers. They include core and sector focus modules. The core modules cover the fundamentals of antibiotics, AMR and responsible use with a mix of theory and practical applications. The focus modules address key areas of interest identified by the RUMA Targets Task Force with a choice for the beef and dairy sectors.

Training is accessible with flexible delivery options. Farmers can either learn independently by accessing modules via an online eLearning platform hosted by Lantra. This option allows busy farmers the flexibility to start and stop when needed and includes voice over and text script to support learning. Participants who successfully complete the course will receive a Lantra Certificate of Training that can be used for Red Tractor farm assurance assessment. A veterinary resource centre has also been developed where vets can access various materials, e.g. presentations and workshop books, to help them tailor and deliver training sessions for farmers in any face to face format. Vets can also offer farmers a signed certificate for Red Tractor assessment.

More information can be found here:

Please cite 3 examples of outcomes or impacts from the project on tackling AMR.

  1. The AMBP programme has delivered training solutions for farmers that meets the commitments in the RUMA Targets Task Force.
    2. The AMBP programme has been cited in the UK’s new 5 year AMR Plan 2019-2024 as improving professional education, training and public engagement.
    3. The AMBP programme has supported and allowed the development of more robust Red Tractor standards around AMR such as the new recommendation to have at least one member of staff on farm trained in the responsible use of medicines.

How is the project to be developed in the future?

NOAH is working with stakeholders including major food retailers to disseminate training across the food supply chain. Our aim to ensure we can review and update the training materials when needed to keep up to date with best practice. We would also like to develop additional modules on vaccines and vaccination to help farmers understand more about their appropriate use and how using vaccines to prevent/control infection will further support practices that address AMR. We are also exploring how the AMBP farmer training programme could be used in a global context.

Pruex Ltd

Provide a brief overview of your project?

Pruex – Find, Fix and Tell.
Pruex work with farmers, regardless of species of animal, to develop evidence based strategies on their farms to enable them to develop and demonstrate to consumers their prudent as opposed to excessive use of antibiotics.
Our strategy encompasses three areas of activity,
1. Find – We use culture media on farm to identify the types of bacteria that cause bacterial infections. We train farmers in the use of this technology as a management tool, so that they can visualise the infective bacterial loading they subject their animals to, and how their husbandry and hygiene actions modulate the threats to the health of their animals.
2. Fix – We develop strategies for each farm, based on the FIND process, to help reduce the bacterial burden the animals face. We use Bacterial detergents to remove biofilm from water pipes and vials, dry up bedding and reduce the numbers of Ammonia generating pathogens in the animals’ environment. Simply put – We surround the animals with non-infective bacteria. Pathogens have a strong tendency to develop resistance to any substance that might be detrimental or lethal to them. In order to avoid such resistance development, none of the products have any direct biocidal action towards other organisms. The mode of action is based on “COMPETITIVE EXCLUSION”, combined with an influence on the “QUORUM SENSING” communication between pathogenic organisms. An alternative to disinfectants (that kill both beneficial and harmful micro-organisms resulting in an open surface, subject to fast re-colonisation by pathogenic and opportunistic bacteria. The environments cleaned by disinfection are quickly re-infected, and animals get sick.) Using bacterial detergents, we can reduce the risk of infection.
3. Tell – We communicate the good work done on farm to reduce the need for antibiotics to consumers via lectures, trade shows, events and social media.

Please cite 3 examples of outcomes or impacts from the project on tackling AMR.

Andrew Brewer, milks around 700 cows. By concentrating on improving the environment his cows are housed in during the winter, he has seen bedding and animal health costs reduce. He has achieved in excess of a 70% reduction in antibiotic use for mastitis since focusing on his animals’ environment. The cows’ water was contaminated by pathogenic bacterial biofilm, the bedding used was wet despite constant replenishment, and Ammonia was a constant issue for air quality. They calved around 700 cows this last Autumn and had ZERO cases of scour or pneumonia in calves.

Even on high welfare units, disease can be problematic. Stephen Conisbee worked with Pruex to further improve husbandry from an already elevated position to benefit from less disease.
Turkeys and buildings were contaminated with Campylobacter.  Based on advice from vet Rob Drysdale, Stephen contacted Pruex looking for an alternative to antibiotic treatment. Having improved hygiene by using a bacterial detergent as a fog on litter, and to treat water lines, within two weeks, no campylobacter was found within the buildings, the processing plant nor bird carcasses. On a bad year, mortality can run to 10%. Stephen would be really happy with birds achieving target weights and mortality being below 5%. Since managing at bacterial level the birds’ environment, he has achieved mortality rates as low as 2.3% with the birds being 4% ahead of target weight.

James Ford farms 12,000 free range laying hens. He had treated his flock twice with antibiotics due to Necrotic enteritis. Each time the withdrawal period ended, the hens would go sick again.  His hens were 10% below egg laying target with over 20% of eggs being classified as seconds. Since using bacterial detergents, his hens have recovered to be 7% ahead of egg laying target with only 2% seconds.

How is the project to be developed in the future?

Pruex can enable agriculture to take the lead in the fight against AMR and inspire consumers to use antibiotics prudently. A market penetration strategy will both reduce the need for antibiotics at farm level and generate the evidence needed to inspire consumers to value food that’s produced with prudent as opposed to excessive antibiotic use. By growing the market for bacterial detergents in the British Isles, we hope to influence other food producing countries to follow suit.

Royal Agricultural University

Provide a brief overview of your project?

Our project aims to rear dairy bull calves using the minimum amount of antibiotics. To do this we try and utilize better management, the use of vaccines, low stress and good health parameter recognition.
The unit accepts 80, three week old calves which stay on the unit for 12 weeks. The animals are fed milk for the first 5 weeks after which we wean them onto solid food. They are kept in four groups throughout their time on the unit and have access to creep feed and straw at all times. The shed has been designed for large cattle and so the issues we deal with are very similar to what many farmers in the country face. They are bedded on straw which is topped with fresh straw every two days. We have developed specific protocols for the treatment of the calves and there is a strict routine for the daily management of the calves. Feed intakes, weight gains and treatments are all recorded to monitor the calves. One important rule on the farm is that any antibiotic use must be justified and all usage is scrutinized to make sure this is being upheld. To date we have had 7 batches of calves.
The calves are managed by a full time livestock assistant with a veterinary surgeon managing the health and welfare of the unit. With our results, we deliver knowledge exchange to farmers on how we have achieved these feats and how they could be integrated into their own farms. We are working with a large farm vet practice, an integrated calf rearing company and some retailers on this.

Please cite 3 examples of outcomes or impacts from the project on tackling AMR.

We have managed to reduce antimicrobial usage significantly between each batch of calves. We have also massively reduced the use of critical antibiotics on our unit. The levels of morbidity and mortality are greatly reduced while maintaining high growth rates which is above the UK average, which helps get industry acceptance of our methods. Calf diarrhoea for example has been reduced to almost zero on the unit. Importantly, this has financially cost very little to do as management has been the major factor involved in creating this success. A lot of lessons have been learned which is being promoted into the industry for others to follow.

How is the project to be developed in the future?

The use of more technology to detect disease will be tested. There are plans to install infra-red cameras to detect calf temperature changes which may help reduce the need to use a thermometer in the animal as often. We are also installing air monitoring equipment to help detect gases such as methane and ammonia which could increase the chances of pneumonia if at high levels. We also aim to modify vaccine use protocols to make sure the vaccine has maximum effect when administered. Currently we use just viral vaccines and so are planning to try bacterial vaccines to see if they reduce our pneumonia levels even further. We are aiming to integrate different technologies to help improve predicting and detecting disease.
Management is also key and we are developing more ideas to help keep disease load low in the shed and keeping the calves as calm as possible. This includes different methods of cleaning and disinfection, better handling methods, planning of routine procedures such as vaccination and other preventative measures.

Semex UK

Provide a brief overview of your project?

Years of research led Dr. Bonnie Mallard, professor and inventor of the High Immune Response (HIR) Technology and the Immunity+ Technology, to develop a testing method to identify animals with natural immunity and enhanced disease resistance.
This was a 22-yr research program supported by Semex with almost 100 research papers in referred journals on immune response. Several thousand animals were tested in the research in beta test and commercial herds.
Past selection for dairy health involved few ‘true’ direct health traits. Selection was for an end result in the hope it achieved better health using low heritability health traits.
We needed a better approach and we found this in selecting for higher immunity which is better than direct selection for individual health traits, providing a Broad-based Defence Against Most Viral & Bacterial Infections
In the initial trials, HIR cows had half the incidences of disease than LIR cows. They responded better to commercial vaccines. They have higher quality colostrum with more antibodies and they are able to provide a proportional concentration of a specific antibody to their calves through colostrum to protect against disease.
In 2018 we launched Elevate – a genomic test which allows dairy farmers to test for Immune response and to breed from the highest immune responders. In trials Low Immunity females had 41% less disease than High Immunity females, helping reduce antibiotic and drug use on farm drastically.


Cite 3 examples of outcomes or impacts from the project on tackling AMR: We are seeing on farm reductions in disease by simply choosing one sire over another. Less disease = less antibiotics used.
One herd we are working with has analysed the health records of 1,242 first and second calved daughters of Immunity+ sires (  bear in mind we are building High Immune responders and these are first cross daughters). He compared these health records to 3,606 non Immunity+ sired daughters and the results were.
The potential to increase these numbers comes with breeding High Immunity sires on these females. These reductions have led to less drugs, hormones and antibiotics being used on this farm.

2,181 first cross calves were analysed Vs 1,850 non immunity sired and they had

This is in one herd, with many other herds showing similar reductions. The challenge is to encourage farmers to record disease incidences on farm.


How is the project to be developed in the future?

Semex’s new joint project with the University of Guelph’s Dr. Bonnie Mallard, the Angus Genetics Inc and Canadian Angus Association is dedicated to fighting Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) in Angus Beef cattle.
BRD is the most common and costly disease affecting feedlot cattle in North America, with estimates to be as high as $1 billion annually. Unfortunately, pharmaceuticals are temporary solutions, with antimicrobial resistance growing and antibiotics are becoming less effective over time. Additionally, the meat industry is facing mounting pressure to phase out antibiotic use, with supply chains responding to consumer demand.

“Semex is taking our Immunity+® technology to the beef industry,” says Dr. Michael Lohuis, Semex Vice President Research & Innovation. “With Dr. Mallard, the Angus Genetics Inc and Canadian Angus Association, we’re developing a High Immune Response test for Angus cattle. BRD is a costly disease, and we think we could reduce those costs by up to 50%! Our goal is to develop a more sustainable beef product for both our clients and the consumer.


Bristol Veterinary School, University of Bristol (Winner – Antibiotic Guardian Awards 2018)

Provide a brief overview of the project:

The AMR Force, an interdisciplinary research group, has collaborated successfully with researchers, practitioners and industry bodies across the food chain to influence the use of antimicrobials in the livestock sector. Working to change both policy and practice, the group have engaged farmers and veterinarians, retailers and suppliers, as well as farming, medical and industry stakeholders. Over the last three years, the AMR Force have shared the results of their research widely, actively participating in initiatives to inform policy and influence the national research agenda. They are represented on the board of Antibiotic Action among other leading bodies and have been key speakers at events such as the Global Leaders Forum on AMR which informed government ministers ahead of the G7, G20 and UN General Assembly 2016 meetings. They have also been represented at All Party Parliamentary Group and House of Lords meetings on antimicrobial resistance. At a practical level, the group continues to work to inform and change the prescribing practices of veterinarians nationally and internationally.

The group have raised public awareness on AMR in the wider society, speaking on BBC television and radio and at numerous Soil Association and Alliance to Save our Antibiotics events, as well as using social media to promote their work (@AMRForce on Twitter). They regularly inform industry and legislative bodies such as AHDB Dairy, Dairy UK, RUMA, CHaWG, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate and Defra. They have also actively contributed to One Health Initiatives through BSAC and Antibiotic Action and to high-level advice on antimicrobial use policies including the O’Neill Report. They currently steward over £7.6m in funding from Research Councils UK as well as various industry and charity funders and international bodies. AMR Force work was publicly recognised by the University of Bristol when they won the 2016 Vice Chancellor’s Impact Award (Health and Wellbeing).

Cite 3 examples within the project which highlight promotion of the protection of antibiotics?

1) Changing prescribing practice of veterinarians through achieving dramatic changes in our own prescribing practices and training other veterinarians to do the same; We ceased using antimicrobials of highest importance to human health on client farms of the Langford Farm Animal Practice, with no reduction in animal health, welfare or productivity (Turner et al., in press). We’ve worked with and trained veterinarians across the country through the British Cattle Veterinary Association to do the same, including veterinarians at Friars Moor Veterinary Clinic, who as a result also stopped prescribing critically important antimicrobials throughout their large commercial practice.

2) Changing husbandry practices and medicine use of farmers through antimicrobial stewardship policy development and developing benchmarking systems for antimicrobial use; One particularly successful collaboration led to the development of an antimicrobial stewardship policy using participatory methods with dairy farmers supplying a major retailer: 100% of farmers engaged in the policy development and designed an impressive and challenging policy (van Dijk et al., 2016). Since the policy was launched, substantial reductions of antimicrobial use have been reported by the farmers involved. We are also involved in peer-to-peer learning opportunities to empower farmers to share best practice of antimicrobial stewardship across the country.

3) Increasing understanding and awareness of the use of antimicrobials and AMR on farms by continuing and wide-reaching research on associations between antimicrobial use and resistance, transmission routes and engagement with numerous bodies to disseminate this work; We are establishing the reliability of veterinary prescription records versus on-farm usage records versus actual use, in order to better understand usage on farms. Along with this, we are examining the social science behind why antimicrobials are used in the livestock industries as well as investigating AMR in companion and farmed animals and implications for transmission to humans through the natural environment.

How is the project to be developed in the future?:

We are building the world’s first comprehensive national resource for livestock AMR research through harmonization and linkage of major data collection initiatives in academia and industry, initially for cattle but with a vision to encompass all livestock species and human data. We have recently begun a £1.75 million, 4-year project to investigate the use of diagnostics by livestock veterinarians and farmers in order to identify drivers for encouraging increased use of diagnostics to refine the use of antimicrobials in farmed animals. We will also apply knowledge abroad to work with lower and middle income countries on AMR stewardship in livestock, and were recently awarded £3 million for a 3-year project investigating the drivers (biological and social) for AMR in humans and animals in Thailand. To add to our work developing metrics for antimicrobial use in the dairy industry (including the first data-driven estimation of dairy cattle weights), we are now assisting the UK beef industry in developing bespoke and useful metrics and helping as they pursue an e-Medicines Book for recording antimicrobial use on all farms. We will continue to bridge the gaps in One Health and pursue answers to questions surrounding AMR in the veterinary sphere, and will work collaboratively and across disciplines with industry, academia and government in order to find answers in this area. We have presented more than 35 papers at international and national conferences, sharing our results widely, and will continue to promote the good work by veterinarians and farmers internationally. We continue to lead the veterinary field in the UK in research into and enactment of antimicrobial stewardship in the livestock sectors, especially in participatory approaches involving all interested parties for best uptake and results.

British Poultry Council (Highly Commended - Antibiotic Guardian Awards 2018)

Provide a brief overview of the project:

The British Poultry Council’s Antibiotic Stewardship has set an example for other sectors in the UK and those around the world to follow through sustainable use of antibiotics. We’ve stopped preventative routine use of antibiotics and have reduced total use by 71% in the last four years. We’ve also stopped use of Colistin and contributed to the development of new antibiotic standards for Red Tractor Poultry Assurance.  Our veterinarians prescribe the most appropriate treatment for the birds in our care without compromising bird health and welfare. We are continuously reviewing on-farm management practices to better understand our own use of antibiotics and its impact. We are also driving behavioural change, encouraging innovation and sharing best practice.  While the level of antibiotics used in UK poultry meat production is at a four-year low, we’ve also significantly reduced the use of highest priority antibiotics that are critically important for humans. We’ve been following the WHO Guidelines on the use of antibiotics critically important to human health since 2011. We use critically important antibiotics only as a ‘last resort’ and under the authority of a supervising veterinarian after all alternative options have been explored to prevent a bird health and welfare issue.  In 2011, British poultry meat sector became the first UK livestock sector to pioneer a data collection mechanism and share antibiotic usage data with the government’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). Our antibiotic usage data is published every year as part of the UK-Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance Report. Our farmers and veterinarians will need antibiotics in their toolbox to treat sick birds and zero use is not an option. Sustainable use is about so much more than reduction targets. Our Stewardship focuses on safeguarding the efficacy of antibiotics as part of sustainable food production, protecting the health and welfare of our birds and on feeding the nation with the food consumers trust.

Cite 3 examples within the project which highlight promotion of the protection of antibiotics?:

  1. We’ve stopped prophylactic use of antibiotics and achieved a 71% reduction in total antibiotic use from 2012-2016. We stopped the use of third and fourth generation Cephalosporrins in 2012 and stopped the use of Polymyxins (Colistin) in 2016
  2. We restrict the use of antibiotics classified as highest priority critically important by the WHO and only use Fluoroquinolones and Macrolides as a last resort.
  3. We’ve worked with poultry veterinarians to bring behavioural change within the sector from on-farm husbandry to prescription practices.

How is the project to be developed in the future?:

We will continue to step-up our efforts towards sustainable use of antibiotics so that we can uphold UK’s position at the forefront of international efforts to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

In the next couple of years, we will build on the successes of our stewardship and continue working closely with our members (representing 90% of UK poultry meat sector) to better understand and control why and when antibiotics are used and in what quantity, transparently communicate our actions and share best practice on sustainable use.

Through more coordinated action between poultry meat farmers, processors as well as policy makers at local, regional, national and global levels, we will continue preserving the efficacy of our antibiotics, examine the link between antibiotic use and resistance in poultry production chain and effectively contribute to turn the tide against antimicrobial resistance.


Provide a brief overview of your project:

As an ethical and responsible retailer, the Co-op is committed to a “better way” of doing business for its suppliers, customers and the communities that it is part of.


Our customers and members take food provenance very seriously and to them animal welfare, environmental sustainability and fair treatment of suppliers are just as important as great quality produce. For this reason it is imperative we address one of the biggest challenges our society faces today: antibiotic resistance. The Co-op fully supports the need to protect our antimicrobial medicines and reduce the threat of antibiotic resistance to global human health

Our strategy in tackling this has been built around creating long-term relationships with our farmers and suppliers so that we can provide complete transparency in our supply chains – which themselves are built on honesty, fairness and trust. To date, we have established eight highly successful farming groups across all protein, produce and dairy sectors.

Through these groups we are able to actively and closely address the use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines in our supply chains. In addition, we feel that veterinary care and responsible antibiotic use is paramount to protect the health and welfare of the animals in our supply. Animal welfare must be upheld always.

This is why at the Co-op all antibiotics are used according to strict protocols. They are used responsibly and within controlled circumstances. Animals are not routinely given antibiotics, they are only given to animals or groups of animals which are demonstrating clinical signs of illness. We have strict protocols in place for the types of antibiotics that can be given to those animals when administered.

We work with industry bodies including Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) and Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) to support our policy development, engage with industry colleagues to share best practice and most importantly work within our Farming Groups to deliver great quality products. Our supply chains are focusing on the collation of antibiotic usage data for all livestock (dairy) and aquaculture, and have active plans as part of our approach to responsible antibiotic use across all livestock species.

The culmination of five years’ work is our latest Antibiotics Policy Document – which not only demonstrates our transparent and collaborative approach but also highlights that our antibiotic usage is well-below industry averages.

Cite 3 examples within the project which highlight promotion of the protection of antibiotics?:

Dairy – Co-op Dairy Group

In 2016 we undertook a ground breaking antibiotic monitoring project in conjunction with Muller Milk and Ingredients and Solway Consulting. We implemented a monitoring method – termed Average Daily Dose – which takes the farmer’s antibiotics sales from their own vet and then divides it by the average number of cows in the period. It reduces burdens on farmers and gets rid of unnecessary red tape giving a dynamic measurement which can help farmers and vets to make more informed choices. Two years into the project we have seen dramatic reductions – 13% in total antibiotic use and 45% in critically important antibiotics – figures we’re really proud to report.

Poultry – Co-op Chicken Farming Group

Our relationship with Two Sisters Food Group (2SFG) has enabled us to two major projects: the first is to support the reduction of antibiotics through a whole life, pro biotic seed, feed and weed treatment programme. The second, is exploring the use of a novel behavioural assessment by producers.

The Seed Feed and Weed treatment programme trial has been facilitated by our supplier Two Sisters Food Group and a dedicated Co-op farm, which is facilitating the Seed, Feed and Weed trial; treating 96,000 birds in two houses with four control houses. The aim of the trial was to measure all recorded outcome measures and analyse the results. Results from the trial indicate that the two trial houses treated with the seed, feed and weed have shown improved seven day mortality by 0.6%, resulting in an improved total mortality of 1.28%.

Antibiotic usage was noticeably reduced by 3.02mg/kg in the trial houses and improvements were also shown in less post- mortem inspection rejects by 0.09%.

Co-op Antibiotics Forum

At the end of March 2018, the Co-op hosted an Antibiotics Forum at its headquarters in Manchester to launch its latest Antibiotics Policy.The forum delegates included key members of our supply chain such as producers, suppliers, consultants, and industry body representatives. The forum provided a platform for our collaborative supply chains to discuss our future ways of working to responsibly reduce antibiotic use, without compromising welfare and how to progress and meet our future ambitions outlined in our policy.

How is the project to be developed in the future?:


  • Our Antibiotics Strategy is based on the ‘3Rs’ framework (originally devised for controlling the use of animals in research) to Replace, Reduce and Refine the use of medicines.

Scope: Wider supply chain

  • Currently we record, measure and benchmark antibiotic usage within our Farming Groups. We aim to widen this data collection to our full supply chain


Antibiotic Policy Position

We remain committed to the following:

  • Routine prophylactic administration of antibiotics is not permitted within Co-op Supply chain
  • Ensure animal welfare is maintained within all parts of our approach to reduce antimicrobial usage on farm
  • We will continue to look at opportunities to enhance our position and performance.


  • We acknowledge the need to explore opportunities to widen our classification of CIA’s to those within WHO guidelines. We will investigate opportunities by a species by species basis. We will continue within our commitments to AMR to take steps to phase out the use of all of the WHO’s highest priority critically important antimicrobials, including those most relevant to animal production, including macrolides.

Monitoring Progress

  • We will continue to record usage on farm from our producers and benchmark the performance within our Farming Groups and against industry targets as well as widen to our full supply chain. Transparency
  • We are committed to publishing Co-op performance in antibiotic usage within our supply chain biannually.


  • We will explore the opportunity to investigate the impact of antibiotic use within the environment (for example water, slurry, soil) as part of a wider surveillance project across our farming groups and work with industry and government bodies such as the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on the outputs from the surveillance of AMR bacteria at Retail.


  • We will continue to work in partnership with our independent experts FAI to challenge and support our policies and work to deliver progress in antibiotic usage within our agricultural supply chain. Antibiotics is a pre-competitive area so Co-op will continue to work with industry bodies, suppliers, farmers and other retailers to deliver progress against our policy.


Supporting evidence

  • From the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics:

The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics welcomes the decision by Co-op to publish data on antibiotic use in its supply chain.

Suzi Shingler of the Alliance said: “We very much welcome Co-op’s decision to publish data on their suppliers’ antibiotic use. The publication of this information means almost half of the UK’s largest supermarkets are now proving that there is an industry-wide commitment to greater transparency in disclosing levels of antibiotics being used in our food production. We hope that the rest soon join Co-op, Waitrose, M&S and Asda in increasing transparency for their customers.”

Co-op’s data shows antibiotic-use levels which are well below industry average. The data is also comprehensive in that it covers the majority of farmed animals.

Cóilín Nunan, the Alliance’s scientific adviser said: “The publication of this data should help drive average use across the farming industry down, as it illustrates the extent to which many other producers are still overusing antibiotics, despite recent cuts. If the data published by the four supermarkets so far is genuinely representative of antibiotic use in their UK supply chains, then this implies that some other suppliers must be using far higher levels to account for the significantly higher industry averages.

  • The Co-op Antibiotics Policy Document can be downloaded here:–performance-and-co-op-antibiotic-policy.pdf

  • A blog from Ciara Gorst, Co-op’s head of agriculture, on the launch of our new policy document can be read here:

MSD Animal Health

Provide a brief overview of your project:

Time to Vaccinate UK campaign – by MSD Animal Health

The agricultural industry is always going to need medicines for animal health and welfare, and antibiotics will continue to play a role. Their responsible use across all livestock sectors needs to be prioritised so they are only used appropriately when required, using as little as possible but as much as necessary. Animal health programmes should be implemented to protect livestock against preventable disease; reliance should not be on antibiotics to treat conditions after they occur.

The success of vaccination in preventing disease has significant potential to reduce antibiotic use, as has already been well demonstrated in the poultry and aquaculture industries. With low penetration rates in the other livestock sectors, the Time to Vaccinate initiative is working to improve animal health and, as a result, reduce the use of antibiotics.

Ultimately, emphasis should be placed on controlling disease through proactive and robust prevention programmes, in which vaccines play a crucial role and if antibiotics are required, they must be used responsibly.

Time to Vaccinate is mobilising stakeholders, raising awareness and talking to policy shapers about the role improved animal health can play in lowering the use of antibiotics. It illustrates MSD Animal Health’s commitment to supporting the industry’s continuing move towards preventive animal healthcare.

Cite 3 examples within the project which highlight promotion of the protection of antibiotics?:

White paper, November 2017

MSD Animal Health produced the white paper ‘Time to vaccinate – looking beyond antibiotics’. It is a collaboration between leading independent animal health experts which provides a comprehensive analysis of the scientific evidence about preventive healthcare, including the potential for vaccination, to help reduce the use of antibiotics. The paper is also a call to policy makers to support the industry in looking beyond antibiotics.

Symposium, November 2017

The white paper was launched at an event attended by organisations within the animal health industry including VMD, Red Tractor, Defra, AHDB, retailers, vets and academics.

Three experts (focused on sheep, cattle and pigs) presented the challenges facing the livestock sectors in terms of animal health, vaccination and the use of antibiotics. Success stories in reducing antibiotic usage, focusing on poultry and aquaculture, were presented, alongside research into farmer attitudes to vaccination.

Delegates’ experience and expertise was also captured through breakout sessions discussing how to improve animal health and vaccination rates. Topics included:

  • What animal health outcomes should we measure and why?
  • What research is needed to drive increased vaccine penetration rates?
  • How do we get the industry to implement a proactive herd health tool box?
  • What can the industry do to align on this issue?

The ideas outlined were key in developing the next phase of Time to Vaccinate.

Policy influence through political groups and policy specialists

Following publication of the white paper and the symposium, MSD Animal Health took Time to Vaccinate to the Oxford Farming Conference, an influential and policy-focused farming event. Since then, the initiative’s impact has continued through its work with several policy specialists and political groups.

How is the project to be developed in the future?:

The Time to Vaccinate initiative has achieved good traction within the opinion leader and influencer animal health community. This will now be harnessed and developed to maintain the momentum by focusing on the following areas during 2018/19:

  • Working with stakeholders to create a Vaccination Taskforce. Discussion groups at the Symposium highlighted an independent group is needed to support improvements in vaccine penetration rates. Stakeholders engaged will span retailers, processors, veterinary bodies and animal welfare organisations.
  • Development of a communications plan. This will take the message to wider audiences and include insight from key opinion leaders, the latest research and updates about vaccine penetration rate data. By keeping this issue on the PR agenda, MSD Animal Health hopes to influence the decisions of policy shapers, vets and farmers alike.
  • Producing a white paper looking at sustainability and/or productivity and the evidence for animal health improving these outcomes.
  • Contributing to policy. MSD Animal Health will continue to contribute to consultations and offer expert advice and research to support the shaping of new policies during the current shifting climate for agriculture, food and the environment.
  • Market research. MSD Animal Health will undertake new research into farmer attitudes to vaccination to better inform communications and new initiatives.

Pyon Products Ltd

Provide a brief overview of your project:

Around 50% of cross bred calves from the dairy industry do not receive sufficient colostrum in the first 6 hours of life. This has been clarified using ZST testing. Lack of passive immunity is a major reason that so much antibiotic is prescribed for calf scour and pneumonia in calfhood.

We set out to create a simple kit which could be incorporated into a protocol on any dairy farm,so that all calves could have access to plenty of good quality colostrum in the first few hours of life.

The ‘Store &Thaw Colostrum management system ‘ comprises a refractometer for testing colostrum,specially designed freezer bags,and a thermostatically controlled heated water bath. The idea is to test and freeze only the best quality colostrum ,so thatcolostrum can be defrosted quickly ( in 15 mins) and fed while the gut membrane is still ‘ open’ in the first 6 hours of life.

Cite 3 examples within the project which highlight promotion of the protection of antibiotics?:

Fraser Jones ,farmer with 1000 cows from Welshpool decreased his antibiotic use by 35%.

Vicki Sealy, farmer from Wiltshire started using the system after a major calf health problem. Calf mortality this Spring was less than 2%.

Chris Spence ,farmer from Northallerton has 2 Store &Thaw systems. One for thawing colostrum set at 50C and the other for pasteurising colostrum,set at 60C. The combination of pasteurisation and rapid thawing has decreased mortality and increased growth rates on his 700 strong herd.

More detail on these 3 farms can be provided on request.

How is the project to be developed in the future?:

We started with the RABDF Innovation award in 2016. Since then we have developed outlets through Vets and agricultural merchants throughout the UK and Ireland.

We recently sent the product to Australia where they are getting great feedback from users. We have also established merchants in Italy, Belgium, Hungary, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. We are currently researching the Canadian and American markets with a view to producing a 110 v machine.

There is an increasing interest in pasteurisation, because of Johnes control and we are continuing to monitor its effectiveness.


Provide a brief overview of your project:

Tesco (UK) has established the responsible use of medicines as a core element to the Agricultural Requirements in all livestock supply chains.

This recognises the emergence of antimicrobial resistance; links to antibiotic use in livestock and potential impacts on human treatment options are growing consumer concerns and a potentially significant public health issue.

Our key aims:

  • Establish baseline usage figures across supply chains
  • Support suppliers in strategies to reduce antibiotic usage, in particular high priority Critically Important Antibiotics
  • To ensure with evidence that this is achievable without compromising animal welfare

This has been formally articulated in a stand-alone policy document which addresses all of the above in 8 commitments the full detail of which can be found embedded within the Tesco Animal Welfare Policy.  This emphasises the importance of targeted reduction strategies but crucially this approach is underpinned and contextualised by a broader monitoring of associated welfare indices. There is an associated programme of on-farm inspections and the analysis of submitted Outcome Measure data addressing key welfare indicators including antibiotic use.

Importantly, while individual species sectors are at different stages in the process and inevitably there has been focus on more intensive production systems, the commitments apply equally across all suppliers of Tesco branded products irrespective of geographic location. Therefore we are able to evidence engagement and improvement both at a local (Uk) and an international level in recognition of the global nature of the One Health agenda. Beyond the immediate pressures to demonstrate reduction, an ongoing element is a supported programme of education with both producers and veterinary surgeons, and communication of improvements in the wider field through industry presentation and academic publication.

Cite 3 examples within the project which highlight promotion of the protection of antibiotics?:

Reduction in the global supply chain is evidenced from 3 years of data tracked and trended by: production type, processing site and geography. To date this programme, supported by individual and whole sector comparative reviews (reported as of particular value by the supply chains themselves), has demonstrated the capacity for a supply chain as a whole to make significant (P < 0.05) reductions in antibiotic use. There is now single population average use of 10.2 mg/kg with the initially highest UK users having shown a 62% reduction in use over that time frame.

The value of supported engagement (rather than commercial constraints) to drive reduction is illustrated in other sectors e.g. the Italian supplier of Parma ham. A marked increase in total use during 2016 was noted during trend evaluation of submitted Outcome Measure data; subsequently linked with an increase in PRRS in the breeding herd (despite vaccination). The company was supported in their response to this challenge i.e. allowed to bring additional nursery units into the existing supply chain at short notice to provide a ‘break’ in production and to enhance existing biosecurity measures. The resultant 80% reduction in usage in the following 12 month period meant that the currently reported figure of less than 50mg/kg PCU  places this company in the lowest 3rd of users within the Tesco Pork supply base (in contrast to the overall picture reported for Italy in the 2017 EVSAC communication).

Low use per se is not the only goal and shifts in prescribing practice away from CIAS as a consequence of supplier engagement is demonstrated in both the dairy and commercial egg sectors, where use of fluoroquinolones and 3rd & 4th generation cephalosporins has been eliminated in all but exceptional, evidence based circumstances and there is continued reduction in macrolides and colistin use.

How is the project to be developed in the future?:

To date, the broiler and dairy suppliers provide the best whole chain examples of total reduction and change in prescribing practice and key learning’s from these will be extended to the other sectors. With effect from April 2018 the Turkey supply chain will submit whole life production figures encompassing brood and move systems and similarly a unified system of reporting has now been agreed across all pig suppliers; a challenge given the different statutory reporting metrics that have been in place for individual supplying countries.  Data will continue to be tracked and trended and analysed in the context of other welfare outcomes e.g. mortality to ensure that policy commitments are met but at no expense to net animal wellbeing. Technical guidance updates will be signposted and delivered in conjunction with Integra (dedicated 3rd party inspection and advisory service). The programme of supplier review meetings will be maintained and extended where appropriate to ensure education and support remains in place. Communication of performance against targets will be a key area of development both through academic publication and industry presentation but will be extended to include public facing summaries. Collaborative research opportunities are being identified, particularly those focussed around farmer-driven participatory policy implementation; given that a ‘bottom up’ approach consistently delivers wider reaching and more sustained changes than a purely regulatory ‘top down’ approach.

Waitrose Farming Partnership

Provide a brief overview of your project:

The Waitrose Farming Partnership (WFP) – Responsible Animal Health subgroup (RAH) has been working collaboratively to exchange best practice and encourage responsible use of antimicrobials within all suppliers of meat, milk, or eggs into the Waitrose Supply chains.  The group has been working on the project of promoting responsible health as a collective, to optimise farming practices, while maintaining levels of welfare and health.


Members of the RAH subgroup have, where used, removed all in feed antibiotics from the supply chain and have agreed standards to significantly restrict the use of all antibiotics.  Heavier restrictions have been applied to the use of Critically Important Antibiotics (CIA’s) based on the EMA classification, further to this they have also restricted macrolides under the same terms as the CIA antibiotics.  Full transparency on antibiotic use data has been agreed within each sector which led to Waitrose being the first retailer to publish full antibiotic totals from their suppliers.  As part of the group each supplier has established protocols for the handling of antibiotics and have developed online training for all farmers to understand the issue of antibiotic resistance, as well as how to use antibiotics safely and responsibly. The group has also recognised that antibiotic reduction and stewardship cannot be viewed in isolation, high animal welfare and improvements to animal health through disease control, vaccination and good management practices are all considered essential.

Cite 3 examples within the project which highlight promotion of the protection of antibiotics?:

1) The group has developed a Responsible Health Plan (RHP) for each livestock sector supplying animal products into the Waitrose supply chains.  The RHP is a living document which details the use of antibiotics per quarter for each species and product supplied.   The focus, however, is on responsible medicines use and not just a collation of the antibiotics totalled per month in addition to the quarterly antibiotic totals the document also collects information on the following.

  1. Critically important Antibiotics (CIA’s) are measured separately from the total antibiotics used
  2. Health monitoring from the slaughterhouse
  3. On farm training
  4. Ongoing collaborations within each supply chain

2) Collaborative fora, such as the Vet Forum (established in 2014), have been formed to allow peer to peer discussion and learning between sectors on animal health strategies and approaches to reduce antibiotic use.  The vet forum is also used as a showcase for new innovations, such as pen side tests, that are being developed and allow access to the vets to interact and get involved in the research and development of products which will lead to more responsible use of medicines on farm.

3) The development of online distance learning training platforms on the Small Private Online Course (SPOC) model to allow access for farm staff to better understand some of the issues around responsible antibiotic use.  This pediogogical approach helps to address some of the issues with the lack of understanding on what antibiotics are, and why there is a move to reduce use on farms.  This is often not well understood by the lay person and training is key to ensure that on-farm antibiotics are used in an optimal manner.

How is the project to be developed in the future?:

Additionally, the subgroup working collaboratively with Waitrose, is also actively working on ensuring end to end food safety and traceability from the farm gate to the consumer.  One area which has been investigated looked at how the group could reinforce the statutory antibiotic residue testing in meat, milk and eggs.  Each supplier has committed to spot audits for medicines records, based on a risk basis, to ensure compliance is met and legal requirements are being observed.  The group is also looking to extend and formally accredit the suite of training material available to reflect all aspects of antimicrobial use (including anthelmintics), as well as aspects of biosecurity and health management which are all factors affecting how effectively antibiotics can be reduced.

The RAH subgroup continue to explore new innovative approaches to manage animal health and welfare and promote more responsible medicine use, either through training, better recording and monitoring of health information or by being early adopters of innovations.

Wayland Farms Ltd (Highly Commended - Antibiotic Guardian Awards 2018)

Provide a brief overview of your project:

Wayland Farms Ltd are a large-scale producer of outdoor reared pigs. Wayland supplies the premium pork retail market, and all meat is antibiotic free. It operates a high health status herd of 10000 breeding sows. All pigs are finished on straw on our own farms, and contracted farms, to 110kgs live weight. There is a total of 80 sites covering a three-stage system: breeding, nursery and finishing. Wayland employs 100 staff. We own our own feed mill and are around 75% self-sufficient in feed and livestock haulage. Our engineering department is highly experienced and innovative in delivering on farm solutions. We supply the highest quality pork into a dedicated processing and packing site owned by Cranswick Plc. Wayland prides itself on its high welfare standards and is accredited by Red Tractor, RSPCA Freedom Foods assurance programmes, and is rated Tier 1 for the Business Benchmark for Farm Animal Welfare. The management team has developed an efficient and standardised production system by implementing Standard Operating Procedures. Veterinary inputs, such as vaccines, and all biosecurity measures are all implemented via a strategic plan. All staff are appraised annually, and training scheduled when required. An apprenticeship scheme is active, and opportunities for progression for those who would like to learn new skills.

Wayland takes an industry leading approach to reducing antibiotic use. We manage the farms to optimise animal welfare and biosecurity. We aim to avoid the use of antibiotic treatment unless the welfare of an animal is compromised. This approach is based upon professional advice from our partner vets and up to date science and evidence. Wayland’s herd health and welfare are continually improving, which results in better pig performance and production of high quality, fully traceable pork. Our farms are sustainably managed to protect soil and water and increase biodiversity.

Cite 3 examples within the project which highlight promotion of the protection of antibiotics?:

We manage a securely closed breeding “pyramid”, and environment, that minimises disease risk from any outside, uncontrolled, breeding sources. A dedicated 600 sow unit produces all Waylands’ gilt and boar replacements on a weekly batch system. This delivers the numbers required from a continuous closed cycle. All progeny is loose housed on straw. Vevovitall is added to the feed for the control of Salmonella. The Gilt Multiplication Unit produces 5000 gilts and 100 boars per year. All gilts are served on site, vaccinated and delivered to our 8 breeding units when 10 weeks in pig. This provides a single health sourced female. Boars are delivered at 100kgs. This schedule also allows for good acclimatisation and standardised production. This unit does not use any form of medication, usage levels are currently at 0.0mg/kg as per eMB.

All weaners are batch reared outside in field nursery tents to 35kgs. We operate an “all in all out” system and invested £30k in a self-contained trailer system incorporating two steam pressure washers and water tanks. In conjunction with the use of detergent and disinfectant, all nursery pig accommodation is thoroughly cleaned and rested for 5 days after each batch. Pig performance has improved with higher growth rates, lower FCR’s and better health. We stopped in-feed medication and use targeted water medication via the installation of select dosers within the drinking water lines.

Since early 2016 Wayland have been leading the way in the control of PRRS. We spearheaded, and renamed PRRS, the ’Preventing Recirculation, Regional Strategy’’. Over 60K sows in East Anglia now undertake a quarterly vaccination programme per year. This provides better piglet birth weights, better uniformity of piglets, and better sow fertility. Controlling PRRS should help to reduce the period of immunosuppression and provide even healthier pigs within East Anglia with further reductions in Antimicrobials.

How is the project to be developed in the future?:

  • We will continue the routine taking of bloods from piglets. This allows us to check all the following within a matter of two weeks of sampling: PRRS, PCR, Salmonella, PCV2, Ep, APP and flu. This initial surveillance is used in conjunction with both of Wayland’s Veterinary teams, who then provide professional advice on further management of all pigs.
  • We own one of the largest independent trial sites, which gives us opportunities to work with academia, industry stakeholders, supply chain partners and ultimately encourage knowledge sharing and progression within the wider pig industry.
  • The use of the APHA veterinary centre for all post mortem work and diagnostics is paramount to Wayland Farms when decisions are needed.
  • Health is continuously monitored in several ways, but a good point of reference in terms of performance is derived through the WinPig recording system.
  • The use of anti-inflammatory products upon arrival at nursery, post weaning, incorporates aspirin plus multivitamins which reduces piglet stress and disease pressure.
  • To help reduce the use of antimicrobials further, it is important that we continue monitoring worm counts, water quality (the control of legionella and biofilm), the use of single farrowing pens, nurse sows and most importantly keep a focus on weaning age. All these points reflect just how multifactorial our business is.
  • As a business we are incorporating the use of intradermal vaccination programmes alleviating the use of needle injection sites.
  • Because of our regional vaccination strategy, pharmaceutical companies are regularly having product supply issues, so we have developed Wayland’s own Autogenous vaccine for the control of Strep Suis 2 and Hps/Glassers. Subsequently we have reduced further our reliance on the use of antibiotics.
  • The pig industry requires further innovation and investment in technology to assist with pig race / handling systems designed for efficient vaccination programmes. Our engineering team are currently looking at options.
  • We would like to investigate the use of Lauric Acid (coconut oil.) There is a wide range of bacteria that could affect a piglet’s gut around weaning. Applying medium-chain fatty acids in piglet diets can help improve performance and health. MCFAs are mainly considered as an anionic surfactant, which, because of this property, have antibacterial effects. Antimicrobial properties of MCFAs have been assessed as having protective effects on the intestinal microarchitecture of the pig gut. MCFAs have also been suggested to have immune-modulating effects but evidence from pig research to date is lacking.
  • Wayland Farms have monitored their group antibiotic usage since 2015 through the AHDB’s eMB. We started from a high of 156.3mg/kg to 88.9mg/kg in 2016 to 52.5mg/kg in 2017.
  • RUMA set a pig industry target of 99mg/kg by 2020. We have already exceeded this target and will continue sharing best practice and our unique production process with both producers and retailers.

University of Nottingham

Provide a brief overview of your project:

The Ruminant Population Health group is a clinical, teaching and research group at the University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine and Science. The central focus of the group’s research and knowledge exchange is the prevention of disease in farmed cattle and sheep. Prevention of disease remains the key route to reduce antibiotic use in farmed animals: healthy animals do not need antibiotics. Recently the group has conducted the first UK research to identify where and how antibiotics are used on farms (example 1). Notably, the group recently published the first peer reviewed science quantifying farm-level antibiotic use in UK sheep and dairy enterprises, as well as highlighting key areas to reduce use.

The group has a strong track record of transferring research findings in to real world impact with effective knowledge exchange (example 2). Members of the group designed and currently support a nationwide mastitis control plan (example 3). Mastitis is one of the key drivers of antibiotic use on farms and this control plan allows the development of effective preventive strategies with farmers and hence vast reductions in antibiotic use. Engagement with industry stakeholders has also been key with the more recent antibiotic use work. Alongside the research, the group has developed a freely available software tool – a farm antibiotic usage calculator which is promoted by AHDB Dairy (the levy board representing all UK dairy farmers). This is now used by farmers and vets to quantify and benchmark antibiotic use on their farms. In addition to the calculator, the team have worked with AHDB Dairy to develop simple, visual messages highlighting key steps to reduce antibiotic use on dairy farms; these have been promoted at industry events, via social media and using infographics.

Cite 3 examples within the project which highlight promotion of the protection of antibiotics?:

  1. Measuring antimicrobial use on farms

Through our extensive network of connections with the veterinary profession and agricultural industry, we were able to collate data on the use of antibiotics on farms in the UK, using both on-farm records and vet practice sales information. This has provided, for the first time, a benchmarking dataset against which other farms can be compared, as well as identifying specific practices or treatments associated with high antimicrobial use. The work resulted in two peer-reviewed scientific publications.

  1. Knowledge exchange

Findings of this research were made widely and freely available to the industry. A calculator for analysing antibiotic use on both dairy and sheep farms has been made available online to vets and farmers with support from AHDB. This has been accompanied by a campaign to promote the key messages on reducing antibiotic use on farms in the press, via social media and in farmer and veterinary training. These key messages were directly informed by the research described above. These messages have also been adopted by industry bodies, retailers and professional associations

  1. Population health

Our main focus is on prevention of disease in farmed ruminants. A key example is the development of a national Mastitis Control Plan. This research informed tool allows the targeted, evidence based prevention of mastitis on dairy farms. It has been demonstrated in a randomised clinical trial to reduce mastitis on farms adopting the plan by approximately 20% and appears to have been associated with comparable impact in wider roll out. There are over 1200 dairy herds with an official plan, and over 3000 herds are estimated to have been influenced by the approach – likely to represent >30% of UK dairy cows. This would to lead to large reductions in antibiotics required by these farms.

How is the project to be developed in the future?:

All the work is currently ongoing. Group members regularly speak at veterinary and farming conferences as well as delivering more bespoke training to small groups of vets and farmers. Programmes of knowledge exchange are being developed in conjunction with retailers and industry bodies to promote the findings of the research and enable farmers and their vets to identify sustainable approaches to reducing antibiotic use. This includes providing expert technical input to identify key messages for use in social media campaigns and industry lead initiatives.


Ongoing research on the prevention of disease is taking place with current projects investigating key drivers of antibiotic use in calves. A more detailed evaluation of the measurement and use of antibiotics in beef herds and sheep flocks is also underway, data can be limited in these systems making benchmarking challenging and so more detailed investigation should allow key areas to target disease prevention and antibiotic use reduction to be identified.

Our group’s main focus is on research to prevent disease, so we’re continuously putting together new projects in this area. Example areas of interest include the use of on farm technology to monitor and prevent disease and the use of “big data” techniques to maximise the value from on farm technologies.