Archive for the ‘RUMA News’ Category

Farm medicine stewardship efforts join up across the UK

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) are the latest organisations to join the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance, strengthening the farming industry’s ability to apply clear, consistent standards of farm medicine stewardship, and particularly of antibiotics, across the whole UK.

RUMA chairman Gwyn Jones says the involvement in RUMA of the two meat assurance organisations – alongside that of existing members the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) and the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) – strengthens the UK’s cohesive and voluntary approach to antibiotic stewardship which has helped to deliver overall reductions of 40% in farm antibiotic sales so far.

Mr Jones explains: “While HCC, QMS, NFUS and UFU have been actively involved in welfare and antibiotic stewardship groups for some time, being part of RUMA will ensure greater future alignment.

“RUMA now has deep representation in all parts of the UK, at all stages of the supply chain and in every main livestock sector, which will be essential in delivering the RUMA Targets Task Force 2020 targets for antibiotic use. In turn, meeting these will help towards achieving the UK Government’s 5-year action plan on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the supporting measures already in place in Scotland and recently announced in both Wales and Northern Ireland.

“I can’t emphasise enough the benefits of UK farm and veterinary groups continuing to take ownership of their part of the challenge of antimicrobial resistance. That we can do it with clarity and mutual support makes our efforts all the more effective.”

The UK’s voluntary approach to stewardship, working in collaboration with the UK Governments, has attracted interest from other countries; the EU’s Directorate General for Animal Health DG Sante visited in 2018 on a fact-finding mission.

Mr Jones says: “The voluntary approach, which has led to the 40% reduction in farm antibiotic sales over the past five years without the need for legislative change, is making progress sustainable and cost-effective. We must stay focused to ensure that we deliver what has been promised and reduce any impact UK food and farming might have on the overall burden of antimicrobial resistance now and in the future.”

Sheep and cattle make progress on antibiotic-use ‘metrics’

A new standardised way to measure the amount of antibiotics used on-farm have been announced by the Sheep Antibiotic Guardian Group (SAGG), a sub-group of the Sheep Health and Welfare Group (SHAWG). SAGG has worked closely with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, academics and vets to identify these measures, and is now urging all those who work in the sheep sector to support farmers in capturing the information. The document outlining the measures and how they should be recorded sits alongside new guidelines on responsible use of antibiotics in the sheep sector. More information at

The cattle sectors are also moving forward in this area, with the Cattle Health and Welfare Group (CHAWG) releasing metrics for the dairy sector at the end of last year. Measuring use on beef farms in more complex, and so the beef sector has just released a consultation to determine which measures will be the most appropriate and practical. It is hoping all those who work in the beef sector, whether farmers and vets or suppliers and supply chain, will respond by the 23 August deadline. More information and support materials at


Specialist in zoonotic disease joins scientific group

Nicola Williams, Professor in Zoonotic Bacterial Disease at the University of Liverpool, is the latest expertto join an independent scientific group which advises on the responsible use of medicines in UK farm animals. She will sit alongside other eminent scientists from veterinary, medical and microbiological fields, providing insight to inform the policies developed by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance.

Professor Williams is a microbiologist with over 17 years’ experience in conducting applied research, primarily on bacterial zoonoses and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Her research interests include reservoirs and transmission of food-borne pathogens, transfer and maintenance of antimicrobial resistance, antimicrobial prescribing practice, and the epidemiology of AMR bacteria in wildlife, livestock and pets.

Speaking of her appointment, Professor Williams said: “I am delighted to join this unique group and have the chance to apply my learnings at the ‘coalface’ of changes to animal medicine stewardship in the UK.

“I’m particularly interested in how some areas of current research could add to the knowledge base of this scientific group – for example, work I’m now doing in the UK exploring what drives veterinary prescribing behaviour so we can understand how change can be implemented.

“Other relevant studies concern the characterising of relationships and transmission of pathogenic bacteria between different reservoirs, including humans, livestock and the food chain, and the wider environment.

“We are seeing a far stronger focus on AMR in the environment now emerging, so I hope that adding my knowledge in this area to the scientific group will help RUMA to identify what guidance it should be delivering onwards to the farming industry and in veterinary clinical environments,” Professor Williams added.

Catherine McLaughlin, chair of the Independent Scientific Group, has welcomed the addition of Professor Williams to the team, saying her broad global and inter-disciplinary experience will add valuable breadth to the team.

Ms McLaughlin said: “Professor Williams’ experience in the transmission of antibiotic resistance genes among not just farm animals but pets and wildlife within a range of environments will be extremely valuable.

“One Health really does mean considering all these areas together, so we can ensure the most sustainable and effective approach to stewardship and reducing resistance can be taken.”

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, Reader in Veterinary Epidemiology and Population Health 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, former Chief Veterinary Officer, and 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
  • Professor Sharon Peacock, Professor of Clinical Microbiology at LSHTM
  • Dr Shabbir Simjee, Chief Medical Officer, Elanco Animal Health
  • Mr Martin Smith, Lead Veterinary Surgeon, British Quality Pigs
  • Professor Nicola Williams, Professor in Zoonotic Bacterial Disease, University of Liverpool

Since 2014, the UK livestock farming industry has reduced use of antibiotics by 40% and is currently working on reaching a number of sector-specific targets for reducing, refining or replacing antibiotic use by 2020.

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