New dairy stewardship group to deliver on antibiotic targets

An industry-wide Dairy Antimicrobial Stewardship Group has been launched to deliver on a range of antibiotic-use targets, due to be announced in October. 

The group brings together farming, processing, veterinary and support functions across the whole dairy industry.

It will identify the responsibilities and actions required of different organisations to achieve the targets and monitor progress.

See also: 4 areas where dairy farmers can cut antibiotics use

While the government has set an average national target for antibiotic use on-farm of 50mg/kg by 2018, each livestock sector is developing its own objectives through a ‘Targets Task Force’ set up by RUMA, the agricultural and food industry alliance, which promotes responsible use of medicines in farm animals.

The Targets Task Force aims to identify meaningful objectives for reducing, refining and replacing antibiotic use at farm level, with targets due to be announced at the RUMA conference on 27 October.

Dairy Antimicrobial Stewardship Group members

The group consists of (alphabetically): AHDB, Arla Foods, British Cattle Veterinary Association, Dairy UK, Lactalis, Livestock Auctioneers’ Association, National Milk Records, National Office of Animal Health, RABDF, Red Tractor, RUMA and the UK farming unions – Farmers’ Union of Wales, NFU England and Wales, NFU Scotland and Ulster Farmers’ Union.

The Dairy Antimicrobial Stewardship Group – chaired by Di Wastenage, Devon dairy farmer and council member for the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) – will feed back progress to RUMA as work progresses.

Mrs Wastenage said: “Antibiotic use is of growing importance given concerns over antibiotic resistance. The formation of the group is important to deliver the strategy and will ensure the dairy sector is well placed to reach its targets.

“Reducing the use of antibiotics must not compromise the health and welfare of dairy cows either, which is why a responsible approach to this challenge is needed. 

“The strategy will also be an opportunity to improve the health and welfare of the dairy herd, and to raise productivity.”

Specialised training for both vets and farmers will be a key aspect in achieving the group’s goals, equipping both professions to work together on responsible use.