Antibiotic usage in dairy cows

On this page the trend in antibiotic use in dairy cows is discussed (from 2004 to 2012).

Figure 4.14 shows the trend in antibiotic use from 2004 to 2012: annual variation, strong decrease in 2012.

Figure 4.14

Based on the first semester, the average use in dairy cows is estimated to be 4.2 daily dosages per year in 2012, including the use in young stock (95% Confidence Interval: 3.6-4.9 dd/ay). In 2009 the use was 5.8 daily dosages per year (CI: 5.1-6.5 dd/ay).

Figure 4.15 provides insight into the trends in the relative use of the various groups of antibiotics.

Figure 4.15

In 2012, 48% of the total antibiotic use on dairy farms originated from the administration of penicillins and 32% from combinations, which were mainly applications for intramammary treatment.

Figure 4.16 shows the trends in the use of the antimicrobial classes defined as the most critically important in human medicine by the World Health Organization, i.e. third- and fourth-generation cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones and macrolides. The use of third- and fourth-generation cephalosporins dropped from 13% in 2009 to almost zero (1%) in 2012. Furthermore, the use of fluoroquinolones in dairy cows showed a substantial decrease in 2009-2012 from 1.4% to 0.2%.

Figure 4.16

Discussion

Within the sample about 62% of the farms had an antibiotic use within the target level ('streefniveau') for 2012 of the Animal Drug Authority (SDa, 2012), 29% between target value and signalling value, 7% above the signalling value ('signaleringswaarde'), and only one farm (less than 2%) above the action level ('actiewaarde').

In 2012 4.2 daily dosages of antibiotics were administered per animal year, of which 0.06 for oral use. If it is assumed that the oral use is only applied in young calves, an average calf is exposed to antibiotics during 2 days of the 56-day weaning period.

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