Archive for the ‘RUMA News’ Category

UK farming receives accolades at Antibiotic Guardian awards

The UK farming industry took the Antibiotic Guardian Awards by storm last night (27 June), in the third annual event which saw entries from as far afield as Malaysia and New Zealand competing for recognition of efforts to slow the onset of drug-resistant infections.

The evening started with Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies acknowledging the antibiotic stewardship achievements of the poultry meat and pig sectors within her opening speech; it ended with a tally of three wins and three ‘highly commended’ awards for farming.

The awards, run by mission-driven event organisers 4 All of Us on behalf of Public Health England (PHE), included an Agriculture and Food category for the first time this year. This was the focus for most farming entries, attracting 16 including retailers, universities, independent businesses and farmers, with nine scoring highly enough to be shortlisted by the judges.

In the end, top honours in this category went to University of Bristol Veterinary School’s ‘AMR Force’ programme which researches key topics around veterinary antimicrobial resistance. Alongside it, both the British Poultry Council and Wayland Farms were highly commended.

The wins continued in other categories which had, to date, been more healthcare-focused.

One such category, the Prescribing & Stewardship award, was hotly contested with 10 shortlisted entries including various NHS Trusts and a leading Malaysian hospital. While ABP/Blade Farming was highly commended, it was the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance who secured top spot with its ‘Target Task Force’ initiative, a cross-sector collaboration between vets and farmers to identify baseline antibiotic usage then set and agree specific targets for species as diverse as pigs, sheep, gamebirds and fish.

Dr Diane Ashiru-Oredope from Antibiotic Guardian, who is also Lead Pharmacist of the Antimicrobial Resistance programme for PHE, singled out the Targets Task Force entry for particular comment. With the concept focusing on ‘bottom-up ownership’ of antibiotic stewardship rather than ‘top-down regulation’, Dr Ashiru-Oredope remarked that it had been a “clear unanimous winner, scoring very highly among the judges”.

RUMA bagged its second win of the evening in the Community Communications award for the #ColostrumIsGold campaign. Running throughout February, the campaign aimed to cut the need for antibiotics in neonatal and older animals through improved colostrum management at birth.

Amy Jackson, who collected the awards on behalf of RUMA, said it was a very proud moment to see the farming industry holding its own at such a prestigious ‘One Health’ event.

She said: “The last two years have been incredibly hard work for all involved in engaging the farming industry with the issue of antibiotic resistance. But tonight’s event, including the number of entries from farming and the quality of the shortlists, shows the progress we’ve made. The discussion really has moved on from ‘who is to blame’, to ‘what can we do?’, and the best practice on show will help us all take a truly One Health approach in the future.”

Other shortlisted entries in the Agriculture & Food category were Pyon Products, The Co-op, Tesco, MSD Animal Health, Waitrose Farming Partnership and University of Nottingham. Semex and ABP were also shortlisted in the Innovation category.


RUMA welcomes publishing of 2017 antibiotic usage data from the British poultry meat sector

RUMA has welcomed newly-published 2017 antibiotic usage figures for the poultry meat sector, which shows that a focus on excellence in health and welfare has brought use in turkeys below their antibiotic usage target of 50g/PCU and maintained use in chicken below its target of 25mg/PCU.

The figures, published by the British Poultry Council in its 2018 Antibiotic Stewardship Report also show:

  • a 82% reduction in the total use of antibiotics in the last six years (2012-2017)
  • a 91% reduction in the use of Fluoroquinolones (Critically Important Antibiotic for human health) in the last six years (2012-2017)
  • a 39.36% reduction in the total use of antibiotics in the last year (2016-2017)

Please visit the BPC website for more details


RUMA welcomes news that UK pig sector has halved antibiotic use in two years

RUMA has welcomed the news released today that the UK pig sector has halved its antibiotic use over two years. The latest reduction of 28 percent has brought use in the sector down to 131mg/PCU for 2017, hot on the heels of a 34 percent reduction in 2016.

RUMA chair Gwyn Jones has praised pig producers, vets and industry organisations for the huge strides they have made in achieving this goal, and says their perseverance and courage should be recognised.

Read the full announcement from AHDB here.



Guest schedule for RUMA’s ‘Drop-In Antibiotic Clinic’ at the Pig & Poultry Fair, 15-16 May

Note: the guest schedule for the Pig & Poultry Fair can be downloaded here Pig & Poultry Fair 2018 guest attendees on RUMA stand 290 (updated 10 May)

The final line-up of guests visiting RUMA’s ‘drop-in antibiotics clinic’ over the two days of the Pig and Poultry Fair (15-16 May at Stoneleigh) has been confirmed.

A dozen specialists across the pig, gamebird and poultry sectors will be spending between one and two hours each manning the ‘clinic’, which is located on the RASE stand (stand 290). They will be on hand to answer questions about responsible use of antibiotics and how vets and producers can reduce, refine or replace use.

Appearing both days are poultry vets Isy Manning from Poultry Health Services, and Christian Blake-Dyke from Hipra. Aaron Patel, head of public affairs from the British Egg Industry Council will also have slots both days, with technical director of the British Poultry Council Maire Burnett doing a stint on day one and Thomas Wornham, chair of the NFU Poultry Board, on day two.

For the pig sector, the National Pig Association’s (NPA’s) senior adviser Dr Georgina Crayford will have a spell on the stand on both days. The NPA’s president Richard Lister and Martin Smith, lead veterinary surgeon for British Quality Pigs/Tulip, will both be present on the first day, with Pig Veterinary Society senior vice president Mark White on the second.

Other specialists with wider remits will pop on to the stand at various times too. AHDB Pork’s veterinary lead Dr Mandy Nevel, who also heads up AHDB’s antibiotic resistance working group, and Professor Mark Fielder of Kingston University, current president of the Society for Microbiology, will both be on the stand on the second day.

Charlotte Wardle from Red Tractor will be present both days as well to help explain the new Red Tractor rules, and RUMA’s chair Gwyn Jones is manning the stand at lunchtime on the opening day.

Dr Crayford from NPA says: “One of the biggest tasks facing the pig sector over the next couple of years will be in reducing the burden of endemic disease, including PRRS and Streptococcus suis, in order to further reduce reliance on antimicrobials.

“Whilst this will be no mean feat, the increased collaboration between farmers and vets that will be necessary to achieve this, plus the innovations in pig health products that will arise, provide excellent opportunities to improve the health of the national pig herd.”

Red Tractor’s Charlotte Wardle adds: “Over the past 12 months, Red Tractor has taken significant steps to strengthen farm standards and ensure they are fit for purpose. Going forward, our biggest challenge is in ensuring that these standards are met 365 days of the year – hence the RUMA stand provides a great opportunity to talk to producers about protecting the integrity of the Red Tractor logo.”

Chair of RUMA, Gwyn Jones, says all livestock sectors have set themselves big challenges for antibiotic reduction/refinement and replacement over the next three years.

“While some are further ahead than others in terms of reductions, maintaining lower levels of antibiotic use can be just as hard as reducing in the first place, and that’s why events like the Pig and Poultry Fair offer a unique chance to air issues and share problems as well as successes,” he says.

“We hope people will feel they can pop on to the stand and chat with whichever expert is there at the time.”

Food report from pressure groups misleads on antibiotics

A new report compiled by a consortium of pressure groups (‘Principles for eating meat and dairy more sustainably’) [1] incorrectly links higher antibiotic use in farm animals with more efficient and productive (so called ‘intensive’) farming systems.

There is no representative data in the UK to substantiate this claim. In fact, a number of poultry, pig and dairy farms operating such systems in this country have provided individual data to show exceptionally low use of antibiotics. It is clear that quality of management remains the main determinant of the health and welfare of the animals on any farm, and therefore the level of antibiotic treatment required.

The report also fails to acknowledge that antibiotic use in UK farm animals is significantly lower than the EU average – by some 60% [2]. In fact, a 27% reduction in farm animal sales in the UK in the past two years [3] means use of antibiotics in farm animals is estimated to now be less than a third of all antibiotics used in this country [4]. This is despite UK farmers rearing and managing over a billion farm animals every year in a wide variety of systems.

UK sales for use in farm animals of colistin, an antibiotic of highest priority for use in human medicine, are also extremely low, recorded at just 2% of the EU recommended maximum. This is because colistin is tightly restricted and used only in cases of absolute last resort to prevent animal suffering.

Last year the UK livestock sectors set challenging targets to further reduce, refine and replace antibiotic use [5], which were welcomed and endorsed by the regulator, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, and the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officers. Requirements to submit usage data and implement reduction strategies with farm vets have also been integrated into Red Tractor assurance standards [6].

With strict withdrawal periods after treatment with antibiotics already ensuring that all UK meat and dairy products are ‘antibiotic-free’ when they enter the food chain, there is ample evidence of good – and further improving – stewardship of antibiotics across every farming system in the UK, irrespective of intensity.



[2] ECDC/EFSA/EMA second joint report on the integrated analysis of the consumption of antimicrobial agents and occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria from humans and food-producing animals: Joint Interagency Antimicrobial Consumption and Resistance Analysis (JIACRA) Report, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

[3] Record low for sales of antibiotics for use in animals, Defra & Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance 2016, VMD

[4] Estimation updated from figures provided in the One Health Report 2015 ( using 2013 data, where human use was calculated at 56% and animal including pets at 44%; use in pets was estimated around 8-9% of the total. Since then, sales to food producing animals fell 27% 2014-2016, and human prescriptions are likely to have reduced by 5% according to the ESPAUR 2017 report ( If use in pets has remained static, this indicates sales for farm animals are now less than a third of the total.

[5] RUMA Targets Task Force

[6] Responsible Use of Antibiotics on Red Tractor Farms; specific rules for pig producers


Former Chief Veterinary Officer joins RUMA Scientific Group

RUMA has announced that former Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens is joining its Independent Scientific Group. He will sit alongside other eminent researchers and scientists from the veterinary, medical and microbiological field, providing insight and recommendations to inform RUMA’s policy on the responsible use of medicines in farm animals.

Speaking of his decision to join the group, Professor Gibbens says he has been very impressed with recent progress made by the UK livestock sectors on reducing, refining or replacing use of antibiotics. But he says it is now time to look forward to the next steps, and how science can support further efforts to reduce on-farm antimicrobial use.

“The UK livestock sectors are to be congratulated for responding to the challenge of antimicrobial resistance, especially in working with the Targets Task Force to set challenging targets for antibiotic use through to 2020,” he says.

“Delivering those targets is going to rest on the principle of rearing healthier, more resilient animals. This means that while antimicrobial resistance is an important threat, tackling it is also a significant opportunity to make long term sustainable changes which could raise UK farm animal health and welfare to a new level.”

He points out that a strong evidence base around antibiotic use, and health and welfare improvements for our farmed livestock, should be integral to the stated aspirations within the Government’s consultation ‘Health and Harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit’.

“RUMA’s ongoing leadership in AMR mitigation through excellent animal husbandry in all production systems can help to differentiate UK produce and elevate its reputation post Brexit,” explains Professor Gibbens.

“But to achieve this, and other goals, we need sound science to underpin all the decisions we make. Sitting on the Independent Scientific Group is a great opportunity to do just that – use the knowledge and insight that I’ve been fortunate to acquire in over 30 years as a Government veterinary officer.”

Professor Gibbens qualified from the Royal Veterinary College in 1981 and worked in general practice before completing a Masters Degree in Tropical Veterinary Medicine at Edinburgh. After spells in Belize and Yemen providing government-led veterinary services, he returned to the UK as a Government Field Veterinary Officer in 1990. A succession of lead veterinary roles within Government followed, culminating in his appointment as Chief Veterinary officer in 2008, a role he retired from in February this year.

RUMA’s Independent Scientific Group, now comprises (alphabetically):

  • Professor David Barrett, Professor of Bovine Medicine, Production and Reproduction at University of Bristol (deputised by Dr Kristen Reyher, Senior Lecturer in Farm Animal Science at University of Bristol);
  • Dr Ian Brown, Consultant Clinical Research Fellow at Oxford University and Oxford University Hospitals and Chairman of the Government’s Advisory Committee on Animal Feedstuffs;
  • Professor Mark Fielder, Professor of Medical Microbiology at Kingston University;
  • Professor Nigel Gibbens, consultant with Itinerant Vets Ltd;
  • Mr Daniel Parker, avian expert for UK government, technical advisor to the British Poultry Council and lecturer at Cambridge University Veterinary School;
  • Dr Shabbir Simjee, Technical Advisor in Microbiology & Antimicrobials, Elanco Animal Health;
  • Mr Martin Smith, Lead Veterinary Surgeon, British Quality Pigs



Drop-in antibiotics ‘clinic’ to be set up for Dairy-Tech

A drop-in ‘clinic’ will be in operation at Dairy-Tech (7 February at the NAC, Stoneleigh) to help vets and farmers discuss antibiotic treatments on dairy farms and generate ideas for reducing, refining or replacing use.

The dairy sector has been charged with reducing its use of antibiotics by 20% by 2020, as well as halving use of the highest priority antibiotics. The clinic, organised by RUMA and manned throughout the day by different researchers and vets, will offer advice on a variety of topics supporting this change – from disease prevention to data recording and behaviour change on-farm.

With teat sealant use expected to rise as a result of increasing selective dry cow therapy, vet Owen Atkinson will be on hand to demonstrate the MilkSure training programme developed by the British Cattle Veterinary Association and Dairy UK.

The University of Nottingham’s new antibiotic use calculator will be put through its paces by Professor Martin Green and John Remnant, and Fraser Broadfoot from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate will discuss the targets, usage and data recording.

Tackling lameness and managing youngstock to cut antibiotic use will be the main areas covered by AHDB’s Dr Jenny Gibbons, and Dr Kristen Reyher of the University of Bristol & RUMA’s Independent Scientific Group will be talking high priority antibiotics and behaviour change.

The schedule for the specialists is:
• 9.45-10.30am; 1.45-2.30pm: Owen Atkinson, Dairy Veterinary Consultancy
• 10am-12pm: Professor Martin Green & John Remnant, University of Nottingham
• 11am-1pm: Fraser Broadfoot, Veterinary Medicines Directorate
• 12-2pm: Dr Jenny Gibbons, AHDB
• 2.30-4pm: Dr Kristen Reyher, University of Bristol & RUMA Independent Scientific Group

The drop-in antibiotics clinic will be at I71 in Hall 1, and RUMA personnel will be on hand throughout the day to discuss issues around antibiotic use as well as the #ColostrumIsGold campaign running throughout February.

#ColostrumIsGold campaign aims to slash antibiotic use

UK cattle, sheep and pig sectors are teaming up during February to promote the ‘liquid gold’ properties of colostrum in reducing the need for antibiotics in farm animals and improving their lifetime performance.

The #ColostrumIsGold campaign, created by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance, will underline that responsible use of antibiotics starts with newborn calves, lambs and piglets receiving the right amount of colostrum within a couple of hours of birth – something all farmers have the potential to achieve.

A wide range of organisations will be releasing information and promoting best practice throughout the month, mainly based around getting the 3Qs – ‘quality, quantity and quickness’ – of colostrum delivery right.

The information website will be signposting to these resources, as well as highlighting hints and tips for more effective colostrum management.

RUMA chairman Gwyn Jones says that as a farmer, he recognises the pressures at lambing and calving, and just how easy it can be to take shortcuts with the all-important first feed.

“But it was a wake-up call when I found out calves receiving insufficient colostrum at birth are more than twice as likely to develop respiratory disease, and can have mortality rates as high as 13%,” he says.

“Too often we see the animal start to suck or we give it a feed, and don’t think about the actual quantity of colostrum it consumes immediately after birth.

“All these factors have an enormous impact on the levels of antibodies in the bloodstream 24 hours later, and on the subsequent health of the animal and its need for antibiotic treatment during its whole life.

“Better colostrum management is an incredible opportunity – not to ensure better health for the future, but cut antibiotic use and produce a more valuable animal for onward rearing,” he adds.

Research manager Dr Jenny Gibbons from AHDB says their recent ‘Calf to Calving’ campaign focusing on youngstock rearing has seen nearly 40% of attendees go on to buy equipment to test the quality of colostrum.

“With recent figures from the Royal Veterinary College indicating just 31% of dairy farmers have been testing the quality of the colostrum before feeding it, this uptake is good news,” says Dr Gibbons.

“Another area to tackle is time of feeding. Only 5% are feeding within the ideal two hours after birth. Changing these practices would make a huge difference to calves for onward beef rearing as well as replacement heifers.”

Specialist sheep vet Dr Fiona Lovatt says lambs receiving insufficient colostrum at birth is behind one of the sheep industry’s biggest antibiotic use ‘hotspots’, in what is otherwise a low-use sector.

“And it’s largely avoidable,” she says. “The reality is that we simply don’t see Watery Mouth in lambs that have taken sufficient colostrum on board in that golden 24-hour window immediately after birth.

Dr Lovatt says a 5kg lamb at birth needs 1 litre of colostrum in its first 24 hours of life to give it essential levels of natural immunity, but importantly, the first feed should be within two hours of birth.

“Antibodies – essential in protecting against all disease including E coli infections – cannot cross through the placenta, so must be transferred through colostrum,” she explains.

“While thin ewes or those that are not well fed in the run-up to lambing will produce too little colostrum of low quality, more often it’s simply not getting enough colostrum into the lamb quickly enough after birth.”

She says the sheep sector should not be relying on use of preventative antibiotics –because of image but also the very real problem of antibiotic resistance. “We know from government data that 50% of neonatal lamb E coli are already resistant to spectinomycin, the most commonly used dose. We need to protect these antibiotics, or we will lose them.”

Veterinary lead at AHDB and pig specialist Dr Mandy Nevel says baby pigs need colostrum too, to maintain body temperature as well as protect them against disease.

She says: “Baby pigs are born wet and with very little energy reserve. Ideally they need to get a feed in within the first 30 minutes to prevent hypothermia. This early feed will also provide essential immunity, giving them the best chance of survival in their first few weeks of life.

“Sow vaccination is the best way to boost antibody levels in the colostrum. That is why piglets who receive good levels of colostrum early will also be the healthiest at weaning. That extra care in the first hours of life will really make a difference.”

Dr Nevel includes post-weaning diarrhoea and respiratory disease as longer term threats for piglets receiving insufficient colostrum at birth. “Colostrum really is a golden opportunity to secure lower antibiotic use and a healthier animal for its whole life.”

Farmers and vets looking for more information should search for the #ColostrumIsGold hashtag on Twitter, or go to the website to be signposted to useful tools, resources and case studies from 1 February.

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