Demonstrating responsible antibiotic use with Medicine Hub

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Antibiotics are an essential tool to treat livestock and protect their welfare. By demonstrating responsible use, our industry protects the efficacy of existing antibiotics and underpins the reputation of our meat and milk for consumers.

Their use can increase the risk of antibiotic resistance; however, we shouldn’t stop using them altogether since protecting animal welfare is paramount. Vets prescribe them following using the adage ‘as little as possible but as much as necessary.’

The dairy industry has made good progress in recent years. There has been a significant drop in dry and lactating intermammary treatments, particularly antibiotics that are deemed critical in human health.  

Some supply chains have already started to collect information on antibiotic use. However, until recently there hasn’t been a system to collate national usage in a standardised way.

With industry-wide support, AHDB, building on the eMB system for pigs, has developed the Medicine Hub to collate antibiotic (and if desired, other medicine) use for the cattle and sheep sectors. This online facility is intended to provide the evidence needed on a national basis and responsible use of antibiotics in ruminants.

The Medicine Hub will be able to track progress against the targets set by vets and farmers in partnership, under the RUMA Task Force banner. For individual farmers and their vets the it brings antibiotic data into one place for review and includes the ability to benchmark against similar enterprises.  It will allow farmers with their vets to understand where and why antibiotics are used on farm and proactively address any health issues.           

Data entry is flexible either directly onto the Medicine Hub or via vet sales data, herd management software or bulk uploads e.g. through milk buyers or milk recording organisations.

Vitally, the data belong to the farmer. They control who has access to their information and AHDB will only ever publish aggregated, anonymised data.

Now is the time to sign up to this important initiative, assign your vet and manage your permissions - even if you don’t plan to start uploading data until later in 2022.

Learn more and register for Medicine Hub

Registering at the start of the year and linking your registration to CTS will allow Medicine Hub to do the calculations automatically at the end of the year, without you having to enter animal numbers.  

The more farmers that use the tool, the greater the capability to measure and monitor at industry level.  This will prove to the public, supply chains, competitors and customers at home and abroad that we are using antibiotics responsibly.

More about the responsible use of antibiotics in livestock