Free antibiotics calculator launched for dairy farmers

A tool to help dairy farmers and vets monitor and reduce their use of antibiotics has been developed by the University of Nottingham.

The Nottingham University Dairy Antimicrobial Usage (AMU) calculator has been designed by the vet school’s Ruminant Population Health Group to help in the battle against antimicrobial resistance.

Around 50 vet practices have already begun using the AMU calculator, which is available as an Excel document, is available to download from the AHDB Dairy website.

Vet Edward Bailey, a clinical director of the George Veterinary Group in Wiltshire, says the tool is proving useful to compare antimicrobial use between farms.

See also: Sector-specific antibiotic targets and what they mean

“It has helped cut through the confusion of different systems of measurement. It has been easier to effect change being able to display graphically to farmers their critically important antimicrobial usage and how particular patterns of use (eg. footbath) can hugely affect how they compare with others,” he said.

Research results

The launch follows a study by Nottingham vet school looking at antimicrobial use on 358 dairy farms over a 12-month period.

The survey, which covered around 81,000 cows (7% of the British dairy herd), found that 25% of farms used 50% of the total antibiotics used across all farms in a year.

It also showed that injections accounted for around 78% of the total antibiotics used or sold to the farms.

Senior clinical training scholar and veterinarian Robert Hyde said: “We felt it was crucial to provide the means with which to benchmark antimicrobial usage on farms, so that veterinarians and farmers can begin to monitor, and reduce, their levels of antimicrobial usage in a rational manner.

“What stood out as particularly surprising was the effects of the use of antibiotics in footbaths for conditions like digital dermatitis. Footbaths for cattle can use phenomenal quantities of antimicrobials, and represent an obvious target for the rapid reduction of antimicrobial usage.”