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Sheep Sector Developing Antibiotic Use Strategy

14 October 2016

UK - The UK sheep sector is in the process of analysing results from a survey of over 350 farmers to guide future support and development work in the area of reducing antibiotics use.

While UK sheep farming is a low user of antibiotics with a free-range approach that means there are very few occasions where flocks are reliant on routine use, the sector has recognised it cannot be complacent and has a role in play in ensuring appropriate use.

NSA, AHDB Beef & Lamb and MSD Animal Health commissioned a survey this summer to reveal where and why antibiotics were being used within sheep farming systems. Independent sheep specialist Kate Phillips, and Karen Wheeler of ADAS are in the process of analysing results.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “The sheep sector is taking antimicrobial use very seriously. We need to play our part in ensuring these medicines continue to be available and effective for both our human and animal populations.

"To focus our efforts, we need to understand why and when farmers are choosing to use antibiotics, so we can steer future work towards increasing vaccination for some conditions and finding alternative solutions to others.”

The issue of antimicrobial resistance is now recognised as a global challenge, with 193 countries recently signing a declaration to work together to combat the risks. This is a challenge faced by both human medicine and agriculture, and Defra has committed to an average cross-UK, cross-sector target which will aim to reduce usage by 19 per cent over a four-year period.

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