Antibiotic usage in broilers

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

Figure 4.8 shows the trend in antibiotic use from 2004 to 2012: an increase until 2008, and a strong decrease from 2009 to 2012, which seems to level off a bit in 2012.

Figure 4.8

Based on the first semester, the average use in broilers is estimated to be 14 daily dosages per year in 2012, administered orally, mainly through the drinking water (95% Confidence Interval: 9-20 dd/ay). In 2009 the use was 37 daily dosages per year (CI: 24-49 dd/ay).

Figure 4.9 provides insight into the trends in the relative use of the various groups of antibiotics.

Figure 4.9

In 2012, the administration of penicillines accounted for 38% of the total antibiotic use on broiler farms, quinolones for 22%, intestinal anti-infectives for 15% and tetracyclines for 8%. The use of intestinal anti-infectives (e.g. orally administered neomycin, colistin) decreased from 7 dd/ay in 2009 to 2 dd/ay in 2012.

Figure 4.10 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 macrolides and fluoroquinolones varies, and is at a relatively low level in 2012. In this year, 2.7% of the total use consisted of fluoroquinolones and 2.2% of macrolides/lincosamides. Cephalosporins were not applied.

Figure 4.10


Within the sample about 64% of the farms had an antibiotic use within the target level ('streefniveau') for 2012 of the Animal Drug Authority (SDa, 2012), 23% within the signalling level ('signaleringsniveau'), and 13% within the action level ('actieniveau').

In 2012, the use was 14 daily dosages per animal year. This means that an individual broiler is treated with antibiotics during 1.6 days (= 14 x 42/365) in the 42 days from day one to slaughter.

Data on the time of prescription reveal that the average weight at which broilers receive treatment equals the average live weight of 1.0 kg. Therefore the calculated exposure of approximately 1.6 days per broiler can be considered as a reasonably adequate estimation of the true exposure (i.e. 1 to 2 treatment days per broiler, considering the 95% confidence interval).

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