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Bristol researchers to benchmark medicine use across UK beef farms

Press release issued: 14 June 2018

Researchers at the University of Bristol are to quantify and compare farm animal medicine use within and across UK beef operations. The project aims to help demonstrate and communicate the gains made to consumers, processors, retailers and policy makers.

Antimicrobial resistance - or AMR - is a global threat, with an estimated 700,000 people dying from drug-resistant infections every year. Responsible use of farm animal medicines is key in helping to combat AMR.  

Farmers and veterinary surgeons must demonstrate responsible and evidence-based farm medicines usage to maintain animal health and ensure safe and sustainable food production. Beef producers, however, face challenges in achieving recent Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance targets for farm medicine use, as significant data gaps exist regarding the quantities and types of medicines used. 

Researchers from Bristol’s AMR Force at Bristol Veterinary School - Dr Kristen Reyher, Professor David Barrett, Jonathan Massey and colleagues - are leading the way with farmers and veterinarians to combat AMR by changing antimicrobial use on farms.  

Using innovative methods, the team will work in partnership with Dr Jude Capper (Livestock Sustainability Consultancy) to provide cattle producers with the tools and information needed to accurately assess, record and benchmark farm medicine use and to effectively communicate results to food industry stakeholders.  

The study, funded by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB Beef & Lamb), will involve a range of industry advisors to the project, including Dovecote Park Ltd, Dunbia, Farmvet Systems Ltd, MD Veterinary Consultancy Ltd, Synergy Farm Health, the University of Edinburgh, The Veterinary Medicines Directorate and Westpoint Veterinary Group. 

Dr Reyher said: “This project will provide the beef industry with tools required to achieve and even exceed the RUMA targets, while demonstrating and communicating the gains made to consumers, processors, retailers and policy makers.” 

The project, ’Strategies to benchmark and communicate farm medicine usein cattle operations’ will begin this summer and run for 18-months. 

Further information

About antimicrobial resistance (AMR) research
Antimicrobial resistance research at the Bristol Veterinary School is promoted and facilitated by the AMR Force, initiated and led by Dr Kristen Reyher. We work across the South West, nationally and internationally and are interested in reducing antimicrobial use while improving animal health, through a plurality of approaches addressing differing styles and attitudes.

Our group has been funded by and currently stewards over £7.6 million of funding from Research Councils UK (BBSRC, ESRC, EPSRC, MRC, NERC) along with various industry (AHDB Beef & Lamb, AHDB Dairy, MSD Animal Health, Zoetis UK, WD Farmers, Coombe Farm), public (Defra, University of Bristol) and charity funders (Soil Association, The Langford Trust) as well as international bodies (EU H2020, Formas – Sweden).

We are uniquely placed to combine our veterinary focus with close collaborations, including those with social science interests, animal welfare research and policy-making concerning animals, animal welfare and veterinary practice. We perform medicines audits and clinical governance on antibiotics in all Langford Vets clinics and advise for a number of other practices nationally. We are heavily involved in influencing medicines use UK-wide and in national control programmes on farms. We also work closely and have collaborations with the BristolBridge AMR project and with a number of basic and social science researchers at the University of Bristol and the University of Exeter.

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