Benchmarking cattle medicine use at farm level


Beef & Lamb
Project code:
01 June 2018 - 31 October 2019
University of Bristol, Livestock Sustainability Consultancy, Dovecote Park Ltd, Dunbia, Farmvet Systems, MD Veterinary Consultancy Ltd, Synergy Farm Health, University of Edinburgh, Westpoint Farm Vets
AHDB sector cost:
Total project value:
Project leader:
University of Bristol, Westpoint Veterinary Group, University of Edinburgh

About this project

The Challenge

Farm medicine use is a key issue for all stakeholders within food animal production and is particularly high on the agenda for food processors, retailers and policy-makers. The majority (75%) of British consumers agree that farm animals should be treated with antimicrobials (AMs) if this is the most appropriate treatment (Eurobarometer, 2016). Public perceptions of farm medicine use, however, are primarily informed by mass media and many consumers consider that sufficient actions are not being carried out to control or prevent overuse of AMs in farm animals (Etienne et al., 2016).
The beef industry therefore faces a significant challenge in demonstrating and communicating responsible medicine use across all sectors in response to the growing health threat posed by antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Targets have been set for the rationalisation of medicine use on UK beef farms (RUMA, 2017), yet these cannot be addressed by benchmarking within and between sectors until baseline levels have been established at the individual farm, regional and national levels. Individual producers therefore need to be able to document, record and provide an evidenced basis for responsible use of medicines. This project will provide beef producers with the tools to quantify and categorise medicine use, to compare their use to other operations and to make changes to on-farm practices that reduce, replace and refine medicine use while maintaining or enhancing cattle health and welfare.

The Project

The aim of this project is to provide beef producers with the tools and information needed to accurately assess, record and benchmark farm medicine use; to reduce, replace and refine farm medicine use; and to communicate responsible farm medicine use to industry stakeholders.

Objective 1

Analysis of farm medicine (antibiotics, vaccines, anthelmintics, etc.) use from veterinary prescription records and on-farm records from a number of beef farms. Project farms will include (but will not be limited to) 15 farms on which detailed medicines use will be closely monitored and collected using all means of data recording available to the farm. More data from Dunbia producers will be available to the project. 

Objective 2

Comparison of farm medicines use on the project farms with other farms across the UK through an existing medicines research database (The Livestock Research Data Platform for One Health AMR Research)

Objective 3

Developing methodologies and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for on-farm data collection, recording and benchmarking.

Objective 4

Integrating and entering data into the AHDB pilot eMB-Cattle.

Objective 5

Developing knowledge exchange material, including:

  1. Resources and training materials to allow facilitated, participatory knowledge exchange events that will excite and involve farmers in building answers that work for them
  2. Case studies of positive efforts in the industry in order to encourage best practice and evidence achievability; peer-reviewed scientific publications to communicate with the scientific community about the work being done by the beef industry
  3. Agricultural and veterinary press articles
  4. Infographics  suitable for social media campaigns to extend the reach of the project internationally and to a number of diverse sectors, including the general public