Cattle vets are being called on to spearhead efforts to populate the new national Medicine Hub with farm antibiotic data.
The call to action, made at the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) Congress this week (14-16 October) in Newport, asks vets to help dairy, beef and sheep clients register on the Medicine Hub before the end of the year so they can confidentially share data with it on farmers’ behalf.
UK farms already have among the lowest use of antibiotics in Europe1. But while pig, poultry and aquaculture sectors capture antibiotic data for over 90 per cent of production, the large and complex dairy, beef and sheep sectors have struggled to evidence responsible use due to lack of this type of national-level data2.
The industry-led Medicine Hub – developed by AHDB – plans to address this. With unprecedented farm-to-fork support3, it offers a safe, secure and independent central repository to collate, report and compare antibiotic data from a variety of sources, including on-farm farm use and datasets from vets and processors.
The Medicine Hub is also developing interfaces to transfer in data collected by the Welsh Lamb & Beef Producers antimicrobial use calculator app4 and the STAMP antimicrobial usage benchmarking tool in Northern Ireland5. In addition to this, Quality Meat Scotland’s commitment to promoting good antibiotic stewardship includes mandatory collation of antibiotic data to contribute to national recording.
Both BCVA and the Sheep Veterinary Society have promoted the Medicine Hub in recent months. Registering farm clients will now be an important first step towards demonstrating the success of a wide range of antibiotic stewardship activities undertaken in these sectors over the past five years.
BCVA board member and cattle vet Rachel Hayton, who chairs the Medicine Hub’s industry liaison group and will be speaking about it at the Congress, says it will take time for the Medicine Hub to fully evolve – but the information it eventually provides will be invaluable for many reasons.
“We need to consider UK producers’ reputation and accountability, and meet new national antibiotic use targets agreed by vets and producers through the RUMA Targets Task Force in November 20206,” she explains.
“We know both vets and farmers have been committed to raising the bar on responsible use of antibiotics – we want them to be able to prove this!”
In addition to meeting national targets, Rachel says UK farmers and vets need to consider EU rule changes, with member countries having to provide information on antibiotic use in cattle from 2023 and sheep from 2026.
“This will apply to Northern Ireland directly, but the other three nations indirectly too as they seek trade deals with the EU.
“Vets, as the prescribers and gatekeepers of antibiotics, have a huge role to play in this, which is why we’re asking cattle vets to step up now and be part of developing this hugely exciting platform. Knowing the whole industry is behind this should give vets and farmers alike a huge boost!”
Rachel adds that some vet and producer groups, especially in the dairy sector, are already collating and comparing data. “Subject to data permissions, we are aiming for these private datasets to be incorporated into the Medicine Hub without duplication on the part of the farmer.
“The Medicine Hub will eventually offer everyone with antibiotic data, whether a single farmer, software company, or consultancy with thousands of records, the chance to benchmark their records against the national dataset.”
To find out more about the Medicine Hub and to get registered, please go to www.medicinehub.org.uk. European Medicines Agency – European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC)  Veterinary Medicines Directorate – Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance  Industry support for the Medicine Hub has been received from AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board), Anglo Beef Producers UK, Blade Farming, British Cattle Veterinary Association, British Retail Consortium, British Veterinary Association, Cattle Antibiotic Guardian Group, Co-op, Dairy UK, Farm Vet Champions, Food Industry Initiative on Antimicrobials, Map of Ag, National Beef Association, National Sheep Association, Red Tractor, RCVS Knowledge, Ruminant Health and Welfare, RUMA, Sheep Antibiotic Guardian Group, Sheep Veterinary Society and Welsh Lamb and Beef Producers. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate also supports the initiative.  WLBP – https://farmrecords.wlbp.co.uk/  STAMP – www.vetimpress.com/stampni  RUMA – Targets Task Force Report 2020
14 October 2021
Issued by Amy Jackson on behalf of the Medicine Hub Industry Liaison Group Contacts:
Amy Jackson email@example.com
Rachel Hayton firstname.lastname@example.org
Alistair McLaren (AHDB, re Medicine Hub) email@example.com
Notes to Editors
- Adjustments will continue to be made to medicinehub.org.uk until Thursday 14 October.
- Steps to engage with the Medicine Hub
The aim for vets is to get clients to:
i) Register on the Medicine Hub by going to medicinehub.org.uk
ii) Identify enterprises on the farm
iii) Set up third party permissions
iv) Get cattle farmers to register with CTS Web Services (if not already) by completing the CTS Web Service user ID and password request form (the link to CTS Web services request form available on the Medicine Hub news page).
v) Set up the link to CTS within Medicine Hub
- At BCVA Congress
On Thursday 14 October at 3pm at the BCVA Congress, delegates can join BCVA board member and cattle vet Rachel Hayton and beef and sheep farmer Mark Jelley to discover more about the Medicine Hub, where they will answer the question: “Where do I start and how will it help my clients?” – taking place in the Dexter Room at Celtic Manor, Newport. Vets who would like to be part of this industry effort can also visit the Medicine Hub stand at the Congress to see a demonstration of the platform. Fiona Lovatt, Clinical Lead of RCVS Knowledge’s Farm Vet Champions project, will also be speaking at the BCVA Congress on Thursday 14 October. Fiona will discuss the opportunities that Farm Vet Champions offers the whole practice team, in championing good antimicrobial stewardship. Fiona will be joined by RCVS Knowledge’s Farm Vet Champions Project Manager, Lucy Coyne, on Friday 15 October, to host a workshop for those who are taking part in the Farm Vet Champions initiative. The workshop will explore how Farm Vet Champions can use and apply what they learn through the online training, by setting goals and tracking progress alongside like-minded colleagues.
- RUMA targets
The creation and roll out of sector specific targets in 2017 through the RUMA Targets Task Force helped focus activity across the UK livestock sectors to achieve a 50% reduction in antibiotic use since 2014, which has been realised principally through voluntary multi-sector collaboration, cross sector initiatives, codes of practice, industry body support and farm assurance schemes.
- Industry Support
Logos for the industry supporters of the Medicine Hub are available from firstname.lastname@example.org