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European Antibiotic Awareness Day – 18 Nov 2016

Date Published: 18/11/2016

European Antibiotic Awareness Day

Re-examining livestock welfare and production systems is key to helping drive down the routine use of antibiotics in UK agriculture. This is the message from OF&G chief executive Roger Kerr on European Antibiotic Awareness Day.

Roger says producers need to be prepared to think differently about how they manage their animals if they are to take serious steps to help limit the risk of antibiotic resistance.

And he says practical management techniques like those used by organic livestock producers, such as breed selection, assessing feed and nutrition and animal husbandry, could stave off illness and help limit the need for antibiotic use.

Speaking on European Antibiotic Awareness Day, Roger says:

“Antibiotic resistance is one the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development. As one of the biggest users of antibiotics, the agricultural industry has a responsibility to do all it can to limit their use.”

“Regardless of the type of production system, there are lots of things producers can learn from each other when it comes to managing animals and limiting health risks.

“Whether it is making changes to housing to improve ventilation or drainage, looking at ways to limit stress, or considering alternative methods to manage herd health through diet, it’s important to look at your own system and think if there is anywhere to make improvements.

“By working closely with your vet on a herd health management plans, you can also identify potential problems early on, which gives you time to make changes before you have to resort to antibiotics.

“Making changes where possible is beneficial to everyone,” he adds. “As well as driving down the risk of resistance, limiting the risk of illness and reducing antibiotic use also help limit costs, making businesses more financially sustainable.”

Organic farming and antibiotics

Under organic production, organic livestock farmers use diverse methods to treat animals – working systematically to prevent illness by identifying causes – rather than routinely using antibiotics. However, if an animal’s health or welfare is at risk then they can use antibiotics.

While being treated with antibiotics, and for a period afterwards, the animal’s product must not be sold as organic. The withdrawal period for organic products is twice as long as that for non-organic ones.

Roger’s comments come during World Antibiotics Awareness Week, a global campaign which aims to increase awareness of antibiotic resistance and to encourage best practice to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance.

Lead by the World Health Organisation, the campaign is calling on the agricultural sector to help prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistance by:

  • Only giving antibiotics to animals under veterinary supervision
  • Not using antibiotics for growth promotion or to prevent diseases
  • Vaccinating animals to reduce the need for antibiotics and use alternatives to antibiotics when available
  • Promoting and applying good practices at all steps of production and processing of foods from animal and plant sources
  • Improving biosecurity on farms and prevent infections through improved hygiene and animal welfare

Contact our certification team for further information.

OF&G is one of the largest organic control bodies in the UK, certifying over 50% of UK organic land and operating across Great Britain and Northern Ireland, including the Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

OF&G has more than forty years experience in the organic sector and is the longest-established Defra-approved organic control body. The company’s headquarters are in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.


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