Dairy farmers have been encouraged to sign up for training on antibiotic use as changes to Red Tractor health and welfare rules came into effect today (1 October).
The tougher standards are needed to ensure practices continue to meet veterinary advice and consumer expectations, according to Red Tractor officials.
Areas of Red Tractor’s dairy standards that have been revised include:
- Health plans
- Pain relief
- Animal husbandry
- Disease control
- Colostrum management
- Antibiotic use
- Medicine administration
- Milk production.
Among the revisions are measures covering the responsible use of antibiotics, and the medicine suppliers’ trade body, Noah, is encouraging farmers to take part in its practical training programme.
A Noah spokeswoman said the Animal Medicines Best Practice Programme (AMBP), which launched in 2018, gave farmers and vets access to new resources, enabling a co-ordinated and consistent approach to farmer training in the responsible use of antibiotics.
The aim was to raise awareness, knowledge and understanding of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and help drive best practice in a consistent manner across UK farms, she said.
Livestock keepers who successfully complete the course will receive a Lantra Certificate of Training which can be used as a record for Red Tractor assessment.
Vets will also be able to access resource materials, enabling them to deliver training to their clients.
The programme, which covers the dairy, sheep, beef and pig sectors, was devised in partnership with a working group including farmers, vets, retailers, researchers, government agencies and the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (Ruma).
Noah chairwoman Gaynor Hillier said the collaborative, cross-sector strategy on training supported both farmers and vets.
Ms Hillier said it would help demonstrate that farmers had the skills to use antibiotics responsibly, providing reassurance to consumers and policy makers.
“Noah is happy to be building on existing antibiotic stewardship achievements within the farming sector as ensuring best practice is vital to safeguard the future efficacy of antibiotics for us all,” she said.
Each sector (dairy, beef, sheep and pig) has a set of modules, including two core modules and a sector focus module.
The core modules cover the fundamentals of antibiotics, resistance and responsible use, and include a mix of theory and practical applications.
The online farmer training costs £59.95 + VAT per person.