In numbers: How antibiotics use has fallen in the livestock sector

Antibiotics sales to the livestock sector have fallen to their lowest level since records began in 1993 – beating a government target for reducing antimicrobial use two years early.

A Defra report showed that sales of antibiotics for use in food-producing animals dropped by 27%, from 62 mg/kg in 2014 to 45mg/kg in 2016, surpassing a government target of 50mg/kg set following recommendations in the 2016 O’Neill review of antimicrobial resistance.

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


All three categories of “highest priority critically important antibiotics” (HP-CIA) saw reduced sales in 2016, with colistin sales down by 83% year on year.



Looking at administration methods of antibiotics, the sales of premix antibiotics have fallen sharply, from 233 tonnes in 2015 to 148 tonnes in 2016.

On the other hand, sales of injectable antibiotic active ingredients have increased from 50 tonnes on 2015 to 72 tonnes in 2016.

This data suggests a move away from blanket treatment of animals to more a targeted treatment of individuals.