The British Poultry Council (BPC) 2018 Antibiotic Stewardship Report has revealed that there has been an 82% reduction in the total use of antibiotics between 2012 and 2017, with a 39.36% reduction in the 2016/17 year alone.
There was also a 91% reduction in the use of Fluoroquinolones in the last six years (2012-2017).
According to the BPC, the British poultry meat sector has made these reductions by stopping prophylactic use of antibiotics; stopping use of Colistin; only using Fluoroquinolones and Macrolides as a last resort; banning the use of third- and fourth-generation Cephalosporins and restricting the use of antibiotics classified as highest priority critically important by the World Health Organisation.
John Reed, BPC chairman, said: “Poultry is half of the meat eaten in the UK and we use less than 9.7% of the total antibiotics licensed for food-producing animals. We have successfully reduced our antibiotic use by 82% in the last six years and have stopped all preventative treatments as well as the use of colistin. The highest priority antibiotics that are critically important for humans are used only as a ‘last resort’.
“Through BPC Antibiotic Stewardship, the British poultry meat sector is delivering excellence in bird health and welfare by monitoring and reviewing on-farm management practices and ensuring responsible use of antibiotics throughout our supply chain.
“Our farmers and veterinarians need antibiotics in their toolbox to preserve the health and welfare of our birds. Responsible use of antibiotics is about so much more than reduction targets. Zero use is neither ethical nor sustainable as it goes against farmers’ duty to alleviate pain and suffering.
“We stand committed to ensuring that antibiotic therapies are used with good animal husbandry techniques, ‘only when necessary’, and under the direction of a veterinarian, to protect the health and welfare of birds under our care.”
Christine Middlemiss UK chief veterinary officer, commended the reduction in antibiotic usage by the industry. “The achievements made by members of the BPC are remarkable. Continuously reviewing on-farm biosecurity and disease management practices whilst ensuring prudent use of antibiotics is integral to the sustainability of British agriculture. The dedication and determination of BPC’s members to deliver responsible reductions in the use of antibiotics will help to protect and preserve the efficacy of antibiotics going forward.”