Archive for the ‘RUMA News’ Category

Pig antibiotic use results show value of accurate data

RUMA has welcomed the fourth annual release of antibiotic usage data from the UK pig sector, published by AHDB, which shows that use in 2019 mirrored 2018 levels at 110 mg/kg, following three consecutive years of reductions which have produced a 60% fall in overall use.

While the sector will have hoped to maintain momentum in reducing antibiotic use towards the 99 mg/kg goal at the end of this year and will be disappointed after a lot of hard work, says RUMA chair Cat McLaughlin, there’s still plenty to be positive about.

“What is particularly valuable is data for 95% of pigs slaughtered in the UK have been captured this time, the highest since quarterly data submissions were made mandatory by Red Tractor assurance,” she says.

“What they show is the significant rise in the specific antibiotics used to treat pigs caught up in the swine dysentery outbreak, which affected herds across the country last year.

“So it’s safe to say that without this outbreak, further reductions would have been achieved, but pig vets and farmers did the responsible thing in safeguarding animal health and welfare.

“It’s also worth noting that despite these other challenges, use of highest priority Critically Important Antibiotics in pigs has fallen again to one of the lowest in Europe, and use of colistin in particular is virtually nil. This is a tremendous achievement.”

Ms McLaughlin says she knows the UK pig sector is still aiming to reach its targeted antibiotic usage levels of 99 mg/kg by the end of this year, but that the sector will only do so if it can be done without compromising animal health and welfare or food safety.

“These are red lines, so while we know vets and farmers in the pig sector will be focused on implementing the necessary changes in the hope this target can still be reached, they will only do so responsibly.

“Irrespective of the levels they do manage to reach by the end of 2020, we will see new targets in place in 2021, to run through to 2024, following the re-formation of the Targets Task Force. It is hoped these new targets for all sectors, as well as pigs, will be announced towards the end of this year.”


New leaders to steer RUMA through ‘emerging challenges’

Catherine (Cat) McLaughlin has been elected new chair of RUMA, the UK agriculture and food industry alliance which promotes responsible use of medicines in farm animals. Formerly deputy chair of the organisation, she takes over the reins from Gwyn Jones at the end of his final term in the role, with Dawn Howard appointed as new deputy chair.

The elections took place at RUMA’s annual general meeting in London on 4 March. Ms McLaughlin, who is also chief animal health and welfare adviser with the NFU and a director of AMTRA (Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority), said she was stepping into the chair’s position at a time of emerging challenges.

She said: “Over the past six years, the UK livestock industry has secured remarkable progress in voluntarily improving antibiotic stewardship, halving use to achieve some of the lowest sales in Europe both overall and of highest-priority Critically Important Antibiotics.

“However, there’s more to do. New challenges are emerging all the time – including resistance to other medicines such as anthelmintics, novel scientific research that will inform changes in practices, and rapidly-evolving political, climatic and social environments.

“Steering the livestock sectors through this will continue to be RUMA’s remit. I look forward to bringing my knowledge and experience – alongside that of my new deputy chair Dawn, the members of the RUMA board and the Independent Scientific Group – to help the livestock industries face these challenges.”

Ms McLaughlin also paid tribute to “transformational” leadership of Gwyn Jones over the past six years, which has helped the UK take a global leadership position in voluntary stewardship of antibiotics in agriculture.

“I’m pleased to announce it was agreed to co-opt Gwyn to the RUMA board for a handover period, to help the delivery of a number of projects including the announcement of new antibiotic use targets 2021-2024 and discussions with the newly-formed Food Industry Initiative on Antimicrobials (FIIA). We’re delighted to be retaining his expertise during this period,” added Ms McLaughlin.

New deputy chair Dawn Howard, who is chief executive of NOAH, said she was honoured to take on the role and looked forward to working with Ms McLaughlin and other new colleagues at RUMA.

“My ambition is that we continue to deliver and build on our success in raising the standards of responsible use of medicines for the benefit of farm animals in the UK,” said Ms Howard.

“I hope my extensive international contacts in the field of animal health will build new relationships and allow us to learn from good practice globally, as well as use our experiences in RUMA to support other countries in making the changes needed.”

Ms Howard, who holds a diploma with the Institute of Directors, was formerly director of the Princes Rural Action Programme and the European Forum of Farm Animal Breeders. Before that she was assistant director of the British Agriculture Bureau in Brussels, and senior policy advisor with Defra in the areas of animal health and welfare, pesticides and plant health, having completed a botany degree at University of Nottingham.

Ms McLaughlin’s previous roles have included Scottish extension officer for the Milk Development Council and market information manager of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS)/Meat and Livestock Commission (Scotland). She is an agricultural graduate of the University of Aberdeen and also holds a postgraduate diploma in Farm Business Organisational Management from SRUC.

Since 2014, the UK livestock farming industry has reduced use of antibiotics by 53% and is currently working on reaching a number of sector-specific targets for reducing, refining or replacing antibiotic use by the end of 2020. A new set of targets post-2020 will be released by the end of the year.

New antibiotics advice highlights need for range of veterinary antibiotics to treat disease

New scientific advice issued this week (28 January) by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on risk categorisation of antibiotics for use in animals has been welcomed by RUMA’s secretary general Chris Lloyd, who says it also identifies where a lack of alternative products challenges the treatment of disease in some species.

As a result, the updated advice from EMA’s Antimicrobial Advice Ad-Hoc Expert Group (AMEG) will be particularly helpful in guiding future targets and policy in UK farm animal health and welfare, he says.

“The EMA’s AMEG constantly reassesses the impact on human health of using different antibiotics in animals, alongside the need to treat disease in animals for health and welfare reasons. This is a unique approach globally,” explains Mr Lloyd.

“The advice also focuses on specific resistance issues within the geographical region of Europe, which is why it is used by the government’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate, RUMA, and most professional veterinary organisations within the UK as the key source of expert guidance.”

The main change in the new advice is that four ‘risk’ categories of antibiotics A to D have been identified, replacing the previous three categories.

The designation of Category A (‘Avoid’) antibiotics by EMA AMEG as ‘not appropriate for use in food producing animals’ represents products that are not authorised for use as veterinary medicines in the UK anyway, says Mr Lloyd. However, the designation does act as a reminder that not all antibiotics can be used to treat animals, and scientifically appropriate measures are in place to protect public health, he points out.

Category B (‘Restrict’) products, also known as highest-priority Critically Important Antibiotics (HP-CIAs), are only to be used as a last resort.

A new intermediate Category C (‘Caution’) has been created for antibiotics which should be used when there is no available product in Category D (‘Prudence’) that would be clinically effective.

The introduction of Category C should encourage veterinary surgeons and farmers to discuss whether lower-risk products within Category D could be used as an alternative, says Mr Lloyd.

“The new category should also focus minds on what management changes can be made to avoid the need for antibiotic treatments in the first place – such as biosecurity, vaccination, improved nutrition, or alterations to infrastructure such as housing or handling facilities,” he explains.

However, the advice also acknowledges there is a lack of alternative treatments to many antibiotics in the new Category C should disease arise. This means that veterinary surgeons can still rightly prescribe Category C products in the interests of protecting animal health and welfare.

“For example, there is no doubt that macrolides are extremely useful in the effective treatment of some Mycoplasma species in poultry, Lawsonia in pigs, respiratory tract infections in cattle and in some circumstances, lameness in sheep. Similarly, in aquaculture, florfenicol is used in trout on cascade for treatment of Rainbow Trout Fry Syndrome (RTFS), for which there is currently no vaccine available.”

In the new advice, the HP-CIA products defined in Category B remain the same as previously, namely polymyxins (colistin), 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins and the family of quinolones, including fluoroquinolones.

Mr Lloyd says while use of these products is already very low in UK farm veterinary practice at 0.7% of total sales [1], and should only be a last resort, their continued availability remains important in treating some diseases in pigs and fish especially.

“AMEG’s advice particularly acknowledges that there are few alternatives to first generation quinolone oxolinic acid for the treatment of Enteric Redmouth (ERM) in trout,” he explains. “This underlines the importance of the continued availability of these products subject to strict veterinary oversight and risk assessment.”

While most aminoglycosides are now in Category C, spectinomycin has stayed in Category D, signifying a lower level of risk. The explanation given for this is its lack of use in human medicine and key differences to other aminoglycosides which lowers risk of cross-resistance.

Mr Lloyd says this is very good news for the sheep sector which relies on being able to treat E. coli infections in newborn lambs with this antibiotic.

“However, spectinomycin resistance is rising on-farm, underlining the importance of using it only in targeted applications and only after other interventions such as biosecurity, vaccines and effective use of colostrum have been fully explored.

“This is one reason why the word ‘Prudence’, which AMEG has appended to Category D, is apt. It’s a timely reminder that all antibiotic treatments should be used responsibly and only when needed. At no time is routine preventative use of antibiotics acceptable,” he adds.

A summary of the new classifications

An Infographic showing new EMA categorisations is available. In summary:

Category A ‘Avoid’ replaces category 3; these are antibiotics which are reserved for human treatment only and are not permitted for use in food-producing animals.

Category B ‘Restrict’ replaces category 2; these are commonly known as the highest-priority Critically Important Antibiotics (HP-CIAs), and should be confined to use only as a last resort after sensitivity testing has been conducted when no other antibiotic would be clinically effective. The antibiotics in this group remain the same – namely 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins, quinolones including fluoroquinolones and polymyxins, including colistin.

Category C ‘Caution’ is new, and signifies an elevated risk. Antibiotics in this category should only be used if there is no alternative lower-risk product available in Category D.

Category D ‘Prudence’ replaces category 1 as the lowest-risk group, but nonetheless advises all products should be used with prudence.


[1] Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance Report 2018


VIDEO: Third RUMA conference faces up to new challenges

The third biennial RUMA conference held at Sainsbury’s Conference Centre in central London celebrated success, but also examinined some weighty challenges ahead, including resistance to medicines, novel diseases, Brexit and reputation. Watch our two short conference videos and hear from pig vet Richard Pearson, dairy farmer Paul Tompkins and calf rearer Hannah Dyke, as well as RUMA chair Gwyn Jones, about the success that the UK farming industry now needs to build on.

Targets update shows further progress towards farm antibiotic goals – but with more to do

Two years after industry-led targets for antibiotic use were identified for all main farm livestock species in the UK, a second annual review of progress has been released, including details of where targets have been achieved early and where challenges remain.

The ‘Two Year On’ report, released by RUMA’s Targets Task Force to coincide with the RUMA conference (29 October), shows progress towards goals for data collection, use of antibiotics, and uptake of preventative measures such as vaccines and training.

The report follows up on the work of the task force in 2017 in which a leading farmer and veterinary surgeon from each sector identified different starting points and potential for reductions in antibiotic use in each species by 2020, then worked with their respective sectors to gain support for the plans [1]. A progress report on the first year of activity was published in November 2018.

RUMA’s chairman Gwyn Jones says this latest review not only provides transparency and accountability, but collects information on progress into one place and explains what is underpinning the bigger picture.

“This report shows the granularity behind the very welcome reductions in antibiotics sales announced by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate at our conference [2],” he says.

“Overall we have a positive story, with antibiotic sales having more than halved in five years, but each livestock sector is in a very different place. Even within a sector, there can be a wide range of results with some very progressive producers, and others yet to engage.”

He says that the poultry meat and laying hen sectors have maintained low antibiotic use and are below target. The gamebird sector has achieved its planned halving of antibiotic use early, but is looking at further cuts. Trout and salmon are near or below target, and with a 60% fall in antibiotic use over three years, the pig sector is on track to meet ambitious reductions by 2020.

“However, disease is proving a major challenge, some of which is being exacerbated by climate change. There is also awareness of how much tougher it will get each year to deliver the changes needed; next steps could require investment or some brave decision-making for some.

“Lack of data for the cattle and sheep sectors also continues to be a problem but we are seeing some very successful initiatives now making a difference, and concerted progress has been made towards resolving the data challenge.”

Mr Jones reiterated the importance of not compromising animal health and welfare or food safety while adjustments were being made.

“The approach has to be sustainable with an end-goal of optimal – not zero – use. Antibiotics play an important role in preventing pain and suffering in our farm livestock as well as ensuring food safety. This is why it’s important to judge progress against the whole range of qualitative and quantitative measures in the review.”

The ‘Targets Task Force: Two Years On’ report can be downloaded HERE.

Red Tractor change cuts highest priority antibiotics by 92% in study

Changes made to the Red Tractor assurance scheme standards for cattle and sheep last summer are driving further significant reductions in use of highest-priority critically important antibiotics (HP-CIAs) across the UK, suggests a new study released at the British Cattle Veterinary Association Congress this week (17-19 October).

Sales of fluoroquinolones and 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins for UK farm livestock are already low, having fallen 57% and 38% respectively between 2013 and 2017. But analysis of veterinary records from 2,764 beef, sheep and dairy farms, carried out by Westpoint vet Tim Potter in association with Kingshay, found that following the introduction of the new standards, use of HP-CIAs on these farms fell by 92%.

Substituting HP-CIAs, which often require small amounts of active ingredient per treatment, with lower priority antibiotics requiring larger active ingredient dose rates, can push up overall antibiotic use; however, total sales of antibiotics to these farms also fell by 22% throughout the same period.

Red Tractor, which has a membership of over 35,000 beef, lamb and dairy producers across the UK, introduced the new requirements on antibiotic use to their ruminant standards in June 2018.

These include instructions that HP-CIAs are used only as a last resort under vet direction guided by sensitivity or diagnostic testing. Farms are also now required to collate their annual medicine usage and discuss use of HP-CIAs with their vet.

Tim Potter says the results of the study demonstrate the dramatic effect these new requirements have had.

“There was already an awareness of the importance of cutting back on prescriptions for the highest priority antibiotics,” he explains.

“Colistin, another HP-CIA, has almost no use in UK farm animals now. While use of fluoroquinolones and modern cephalosporins has also fallen, these are proving harder to replace and their rate of reduction has been slower.

“What this study shows is that the implementation of a formal hurdle to use of these more important antibiotics has driven behaviour change at farm level, by requiring the vet and farmer to have a conversation about their medicine regime.

“The result of these conversations appears to be reductions in HP-CIAs, helped by changes in management practices such as increased uptake of vaccination and disease eradication programmes,” adds Tim.

Richard Simpson of Kingshay, co-author in the study, says the other important element in the Red Tractor strategy has been the requirement for collation and review of antibiotic use by the vet.

“In our study, this increased the engagement of farmers on the topic of responsible use of antibiotics and ensured there was an overall reduction in use, not simply a substitution of alternative products for the HP-CIAs – as demonstrated by the fall in total sales.”

He says that in response to the increasing number of requests for medicines reviews and the integration of the reviews into the health planning process, Kingshay developed an antibiotic sales reporting service.

“The reports have proved a valuable tool for promoting farmer engagement,” explains Richard. “By providing a breakdown of the class of products used, vets have been able to provide tailored advice to farms on specific areas for improvement and the use of anonymised benchmarking has provided context to the data.”

Gwyn Jones, chairman of RUMA, says the success of the UK’s 48% overall reduction in on-farm antibiotic use between 2013 and 2017* has not just been about defining suitable targets, but also identifying ways to drive change – as illustrated in this study.

“Assurance schemes are a very good mechanism for this. With Red Tractor assurance accreditation covering 95% of dairy, 80% of finished beef and 60% of finished lamb production, it’s clear that following last year’s changes to their standards a lot more discussion is happening between farmer and vet.”

While the national effect of the changes to Red Tractor’s assurance standards won’t be fully known until the 2018 and even 2019 national antibiotic sales data are released, the results are extremely encouraging says Mr Jones.

“This is great news for the reputation of the UK industry – especially as we continue exploring future export opportunities for our meat and dairy.”

The analysis in the study found that in the six months leading up to June 2018 the average monthly volume of HP-CIAs sold was 1.8kg; from July 2018 to December 2018 the average monthly volume of CIAs sold was 0.15kg (147g) – a reduction of 92%. Total antimicrobial sales to those beef, sheep and dairy farms also fell over the same periods, from a mean of 110kg per month to 87kg per month. Looking at the individual months, the sales of HP-CIAs dropped from 1.4kg in May 2018 to 0.0004kg – just 0.4g – in December 2018, a decrease of over 99.9%.

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate will release the 2018 national antibiotic sales data on 29 October at the RUMA conference.

Farm vaccine use rises in bid to cut antibiotics further

Vaccination of the UK’s calves and sheep against livestock diseases has risen to one of the highest levels in seven years.

The rise in agricultural use is being put down to a better understanding among farmers of the role good welfare and husbandry plays in helping reduce the risk of disease spread, and therefore the need for antibiotic treatments.

This is despite a 40% fall in sales of antibiotics for farm animals in the past five years, which has made the UK among the lowest users in Europe.

The data, contained in an upcoming report from the agricultural levy board AHDB, shows almost 10 million doses of vaccine were sold for use in cattle in 2018.

Derek Armstrong, lead vet from AHDB, says the big rise has been in vaccines to protect against pneumonia in calves, a condition many vets would otherwise have to treat with antibiotics.

“Sales for this have risen 35% since 2011, with two fifths of all calves protected in 2018. Vaccines for another lung condition, rhinotracheitis, have also gone up by 50% over the same period,” he explains.

“Other good news is that one in five breeding cows now gets vaccinated to reduce the risk of her calf contracting enteritis: protective antibodies are passed to the calf as it drinks its mother’s colostrum shortly after birth.”

The UK sheep sector also performed well in 2018, seeing the highest uptake of vaccines in over six years, with almost 39 million doses sold.

Dr Fiona Lovatt of the Sheep Antibiotic Guardian Group says that for the first time since 2012, over two-thirds of all sheep which should be vaccinated against a range of important ‘clostridial’ diseases, were vaccinated; half of sheep were also vaccinated against Pasteurella, bacteria which cause pneumonia and sudden death.

“This is good news as we try to shift behaviour away from treating disease, to planning ahead to prevent disease and protect the flock,” explains Dr Lovatt.

“Despite issues with vaccine supply, the number of ewes vaccinated against diseases that lead to miscarriages has also steadily increased since 2013 – although further uptake would increase the number of live lambs born significantly.”

She adds that although sales of foot rot vaccine had been steadily climbing since 2013, there was a small drop in uptake of the vaccine from 15% of breeding animals in 2017 to 13% in 2018.

“Foot rot vaccination is one of the important elements of the sheep sector’s strategy to control lameness, and a key target for antibiotic reductions. Vaccine use should be considered if there are more than 2% of the flock lame with foot rot at any one time.”

Professor Mark Fielder from Kingston University, also president of the Society for Applied Microbiology, says the news of the increase in vaccine sales in the cattle and sheep sectors is to be widely welcomed.

“This news is timely as it highlights the potentially positive steps being taken by the UK agricultural industry to further limit the use of antibiotics and so help protect the drugs we have left in use.

“Vaccines are established and effective medicines that have worked well in agriculture and human medicine in the past, with some diseases such as Rinderpest and Smallpox being eradicated globally.

“This report emerges at a time when our status in human medicine has slipped with regard to measles following a fall in vaccination uptake. Vaccines have undoubted positive effects and are efficient medicines that have helped to prevent diseases globally. Their use and this report should be celebrated,” he says.

For more technical information on this announcement, please visit the website. Summary tables from the report can be found here.

Farm antibiotics task force refreshed in preparation for new targets

A task force set up by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance in 2016 to identify targets for antibiotic use in UK farm livestock has been refreshed, and convened in a kick-off meeting to start defining new goals post-2020.

With each sector now on track to meet most of the targets set by the original Targets Task Force in time for the 2020 deadline, attention is turning to the aims for UK farmers and their veterinary surgeons beyond that point.

Chris Lloyd, secretary general of RUMA, says that many of the ‘easier battles’ on reducing antibiotic use have now been won, making the next phase of target-setting more complex but just as important.

“With some sectors now at, or fast approaching, lowest potential use without risking animal health and welfare or food safety, I think we will see far more focus on ways to demonstrate the quality of management, and the health and welfare of the animal,” says Mr Lloyd.

He adds that new iteration of the Targets Task Force has 10 livestock groups rather than the eight in the last initiative. “Calves have been introduced as a particular area of interest because of the way they span the dairy and beef sectors, and the fish sector has been split into salmon and trout species.”

The first meeting took place on 10 September, and the group is due to meet next in February 2020 to gauge progress. As before, the British Veterinary Association, Food Standards Agency, National Office for Animal Health, Red Tractor and Veterinary Medicines Directorate will be observers, with levy board AHDB also joining this time. The new post-2020 targets will be agreed and reported before the end of next year.

The new Targets Task Force comprises:

  • Beef: Mark Jelley (producer), Elizabeth Berry (vet)
  • Dairy: Paul Tompkins (producer), Elizabeth Berry (vet)
  • Calves: Hannah Dyke (producer), Richard Cooper (vet)
  • Pigs: Richard Lister (producer), Richard Pearson (vet)
  • Sheep: Charles Sercombe (producer); Fiona Lovatt (vet)
  • Salmon: Iain Berrill (representing producers), members of the Salmon Prescribing Group (vets)
  • Trout: Oliver Robinson (producer), Peter Scott (vet)
  • Gamebirds: Paul Jeavons (producer), Will Ingham & Isy Manning (vets)
  • Poultry meat: Tom Wornham (producer), Daniel Parker (vet)
  • Laying hens: Paul McMullin (vet)
  • Observers: Clive Brown (AHDB), James Russell (BVA), Paul Cook (FSA), Donal Murphy (NOAH), Georgina Crayford (Red Tractor) and Fraser Broadfoot (VMD).

The original Targets Task Force was formed in 2016 in the wake of the Government-commissioned O’Neill Review on antimicrobial resistance, and went on to successfully define sector-specific targets which were announced at the end of 2017.

The wholesale industry engagement with these voluntary targets and the collaborative nature of the way Government and industry have worked together is unique globally, and has attracted interest from a number of other countries as well as from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety DG Sante.

The Targets Task Force initiative also won the hotly contested Prescribing and Stewardship category at Public Health England’s Antibiotic Guardian Awards in 2018.


Last call for Early Bird tickets for RUMA conference

With the final programme for RUMA’s third biennial conference on 29 October now published, it has been confirmed that early bird ticket sales at the discounted rate of £175 will close at midnight 30 September. From 1 October, tickets will revert to the full £200 price.

Using the theme ‘Building on Success’, the conference will examine whether recent progress in stewarding antibiotics can be maintained, and what needs to be done to better support global efforts to battle antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The role of media and public opinion in achieving positive change will also be discussed, and whether UK farming’s animal health and welfare and food safety are robust enough to take advantage of opportunities as well as address upcoming market challenges.

Headlining the event will be American journalist and author on public and global health and food policy Maryn McKenna, who will be dissecting the role of the public and media in driving change in medicine stewardship.

A senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Human Health at Emory University, Ms McKenna is the author of the books Big Chicken (published in the UK under the title Plucked), Superbug, and Beating Back the Devil. She is a columnist for WIRED and a journalist for magazines including National Geographic, The New Republic and the New York Times, and her work critically examines antibiotic use in agriculture.

The Food Standards Agency will be represented at a RUMA conference for the first time, with its chair Heather Hancock opening proceedings by outlining the regulator’s vision for safe, healthy food built on farm systems which are modern, productive and demonstrate responsible use of medicines.

As at the last conference, the latest antibiotic sales data for farm animals are expected to be released by the Veterinary Medicine Directorate’s (VMD) head of Antimicrobial Resistance Dr Kitty Healey; she will also provide recent surveillance findings for antibiotic-resistance genes within farm animals and their food products, and will discuss how the industry can maintain progress and lead the world in responsible use.

While antibiotic use and AMR remain key themes in the event, broader aspects of farm animal health and welfare, emerging resistance in other pathogens and wider challenges presented by disease will be debated. Behaviour change among farmers and their veterinary surgeons, and the economic and reputational opportunities of better health and food safety will be covered as part of this.

To provide insight in these areas, the following have also been confirmed as speakers:

  • Stuart Roberts, NFU
  • Dr Shabbir Simjee, RUMA Independent Scientific Group
  • Duncan Sinclair, British Retail Consortium
  • Aarti Ramachandran, FAIRR
  • Professor Julie Fitzpatrick, Moredun Research Institute.
  • Dr Simon Doherty, British Veterinary Association

Dr Christine Middlemiss, the chief veterinary officer, will be concluding the event with a summary of the learnings from the day and a call to action for the next two years.

Tickets for the RUMA conference can be purchased via Eventbrite, with places limited. Please click on this link for the RUMA Conference Programme 2019 FINAL.


British poultry maintains low antibiotic use in 2018

RUMA has welcomed the publishing of 2018 antibiotic usage data collected through the British Poultry Stewardship programme. Despite increased disease challenges during 2018, the British poultry meat industry was able to maintain antibiotic use at low levels with just 12mg/kg required in the broiler meat sector, 47mg/kg used for turkeys and less than 2mg/kg for ducks.

Overall this meant that the amount of antibiotics used by the industry increased slightly from 14.4 tonnes to 16.2 tonnes, nonetheless representing an 80% reduction in total use since 2012, and an 83% reduction in use of highest-priority critically-important antibiotics.

Gwyn Jones, chairman of RUMA, said that the UK poultry meat industry was continuing to show leadership in antibiotics stewardship by maintaining low usage levels in a difficult year. “The challenge for all sectors will be as they reach their ‘terminal low’ in use. At this point, it is about responsibly maintaining low levels of use without compromising health and welfare or food safety in the face of emerging external challenges and disease.”

The report can be downloaded from the British Poultry Council website at

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