The RUMA Alliance, as a unique initiative involving organisations representing every stage of the “farm to fork” process, aims to promote a co-ordinated and integrated approach to best practice in the use of medicines
As part of this process, the creation of comprehensive guidelines for the responsible use of antimicrobials (especially antibiotics) in livestock production has been one of the cornerstones of RUMA’s work since it was founded. These guidelines have traditionally provided advice spanning from the correct application of products to the responsibilities of the farmer and veterinary surgeon in reducing usage.
Traditionally, guidelines on the responsible use of antimicrobials came in two formats: short, concise information for farmers; and longer more technical versions for those advising farmers, such as veterinary surgeons.
More recently, many sectors have moved to a single set of guidelines for both farmers and vets, which is produced by the species-specific veterinary associations or health and welfare groups, whose members have in-depth knowledge of responsible use of antibiotics in their own sectors. In these cases, RUMA reviews these guidelines to ensure they can be endorsed as best practice under RUMA principles.
Information Note on Antibiotic Resistance and the Responsible Use of Antibiotics in Farm Animals
RUMA’s briefing paper aims to:
- Explain antibiotic resistance and why it matters to human and animal health
- Set out why and how antibiotics are used in UK farms
- Identify the risks to public health from use of antibiotics in farming
- Explain the responsible use of antibiotics in farming
- Identify the changes in legislative controls (for antibiotic use in veterinary medicines and feed additives) that RUMA believes are appropriate and proportionate to manage the limited risk of antibiotic use in farm animals leading to clinical treatment problems in humans
All cattle farmers must be totally committed to producing safe food. They have a duty and responsibility to safeguard the health and welfare of animals on their farm, and should manage their farm to reduce the risk of disease challenge and, therefore, the need to use antibiotics and other medicines.
Cattle farmers should draw up, implement and regularly review an appropriate herd health plan that outlines routine preventive treatments (e.g. biosecurity, vaccination and worming programmes etc.) and disease control policy, in association with the attending veterinary surgeon.
All dairy farmers must be totally committed to producing safe food. Dairy farmers should together with the farm’s veterinary surgeon draw up, implement and regularly review a herd health plan that outlines routine preventive measures (e.g. milking machine testing, teat dip, parlour hygiene) and disease control policy, including dry cow therapy.
Dry Cow Management is an essential part of a dairy farmer’s routine to ensure the health and welfare of their cows. The dry cow period is a high risk time for acquisition of new bacterial infections. The current concerns over the use of antibiotics and possible implications with antimicrobial resistance mean it is timely to review the concept of treating all cows at the end of lactation to both prevent new infections and treat any existing infections.
The full version of the guidelines for Responsible use of Antimicrobials in sheep production are currently under revision.
RUMA guidelines for the responsible use of antimicrobials by sheep farmers have been designed to give easy-to-read guiding principles that can be used by sheep producers in the management of their flocks. Antimicrobials have, for decades, made a major contribution to continually improving sheep health and welfare. As such they are vital medicines for the treatment of bacterial infections in sheep.
The emergence of antimicrobial resistance as a serious problem in human medicine has prompted concerns that a crossover of resistance or resistant bacteria from livestock could take place into the human population (and vice versa). If this occurred the effectiveness of some medical antimicrobial treatments could be compromised.
Antibiotics are important medicines, used under veterinary direction, to treat sick animals; they are an essential tool to protect pig health and welfare. The vet will ensure the treatment is responsible, that it is appropriate for the farm and the current health situation in the pigs being treated.
These guidelines have been produced by British Veterinary Poultry Association for producers, veterinarians and advisers. They meet the RUMA principles for the responsible use of medicines and as such RUMA supports their use and promotion in the UK poultry sector.
Antimicrobials have made a major contribution to fish health and welfare. They are vital medicines for the treatment of bacterial infections in fish.
The emergence of antimicrobial resistance as a serious problem in human medicine has prompted concerns about the potential for crossover of resistant bacteria from livestock to the human population and the associated possibility of this impacting on the effectiveness of medical antimicrobial treatments.
These guidelines aim to review the use of antimicrobials and to establish practical strategies to enable farmers, including fish farmers, to reduce the need for their use. They advise on all aspects from application and responsibilities of the farmer, feed manufacturer and veterinary surgeon, to strategies for reducing the need for usage.
Practical guide to avoiding milk antibiotic residues is available via a poster from the BCVA (British Cattle Veterinary Association), with pointers on how dairy farmers can make sure their milk always meets the stringent antibiotic residues standards.
Unless advised by your veterinary surgeon, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct number of treatments, between treatments and withholding time. If in doubt, consult your veterinary surgeon, who may recommend the use of an antibiotic residue test.
You must ensure milk is clear of antibiotics and this is part of your milk contract. Follow data sheet and vet advice on all treatments. If you vary treatment (combinations of products, or vary dose, frequency or prolong treatment) this can affect withdrawal times. A minimum seven day milk withdrawal must be applied and the milk tested before being put in the tank.
Further training and information on avoiding antibiotic residues in milk is available via MilkSure, a training and veterinary certification programme for dairy farmers led by Dairy UK and developed in conjunction with BCVA. While centred on residue avoidance in milk, MilkSure covers other areas of good medicine stewardship, such as adhering to correct treatment protocols, medicine storage, and reducing the risk of antibiotic resistance.
RUMA Alliance member BVA (British Veterinary Association) has issued guidance on the responsible use of antimicrobials – a poster for display about the responsible use of antimicrobials in veterinary practice.
Antimicrobials are essential for the treatment and prevention of the spread of infectious and zoonotic bacterial diseases in both animals and humans.
- Every use increases the risk of selection for resistant bacteria
- Responsible use optimises therapeutic effects while minimising the risk of selection for resistant bacteria
- Responsible use — correct antimicrobial: as little as possible, as much as necessary
Download the BVA Antimicrobials Poster here.