The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the publication of two new reports that show overall reductions in the sale and use of veterinary antibiotics on farms and the work that has gone into achieving this.

The findings were revealed in the latest UK Veterinary Antibiotic Resistance and Sales Surveillance (UK-VARSS) and Responsible use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) Targets Task Force 2 reports.

The VARSS report shows that sales of antibiotics for use in livestock have reduced by 55% since 2014 to their lowest ever recorded level.

Sales of highest priority, critically important antibiotics, which have been designated by the World Health Organisation as antibiotics crucial for treating disease in humans, have declined for a seventh year in a row, with a 83% reduction since 2014.

The RUMA report summarises progress against antibiotic use targets identified by the UK livestock industry’s Targets Task Force, covering ten sectors across aquaculture, pigs, poultry and ruminants.

BVA junior vice-president Anna Judson said:

“Both the VARSS and RUMA reports show that the UK continues to maintain the momentum in stewarding responsible veterinary antibiotic use in the face of the ongoing global threat of antimicrobial resistance.

“It is encouraging to see steady overall reductions in antibiotic sale and use, despite the unique challenges resulting from Brexit, rising production costs, the cost-of-living crisis and record numbers of avian influenza cases.

“It is a testament to the hugely successful collaborative work being carried out by vets, farmers and the industry to champion responsible antibiotic use and greater disease prevention measures across each of the livestock sectors, while ensuring that antibiotics continue to be available for use in the interest of animal health and welfare.”