Antibiotic usage in veal calves

The trend in antibiotic use (2007 to 2012) in veal calves is discussed.

Figure 4.11 shows the trend in antibiotic use in veal calves: a substantial decrease from 2007 to 2012.

Figure 4.11

Based on the first semester, the average use in veal calves is estimated to be 21 daily dosages per animal year in 2012, of which 88% was orally administered (95% Confidence Interval: 20-23 dd/ay). In 2009 the average use was 30 daily dosages per animal year (CI: 28-31 dd/ay). The reduction in the period 2009-2012 is almost 30%. The total reduction in 2012 is 37%, compared with the start of the monitoring in veal calves in 2007. In 2007 the average use was 34 daily dosages per animal year.

Figure 4.12 provides insight into the trends in the relative use of the various groups of antibiotics.

Figure 4.12

In 2012, 49% of the total antibiotic use on the veal calf farms originated from the administration of tetracyclines, 13% from macrolides/lincosamides, 10% from intestinal anti-infectives (e.g. neomycin, colistin) and 9% from trimethoprim/sulfonamides.

Figure 4.13 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 fluoroquinolones varies annually, with 1.9% of the total use in 2012. The use of third- and fourth-generation cephalosporins in veal calves decreased to almost zero (0.1%).

Figure 4.13

Discussion

Within the sample 31% of the veal calf farms had a use level within the target level ('streefniveau') for 2012 of the Animal Drug Authority (SDa, 2012), 50% within the signalling level ('signaleringsniveau'), and 19% within the action level ('actieniveau').

The overall use further decreased, mainly as a result of less use of traditional antibiotic therapy with tetracyclines. In 2012, 21 daily dosages of antibiotics were administered per animal year. This means that the individual average veal calf was treated with antibiotics during 13 days (= 21 x 222/365) in the period from birth (or more precisely: from arrival at the veal calf farm) to the average slaughter age of 222 days (white and rosé).

If it is assumed that the average treatment weight of veal calves is about 50% lower than the average live weight, since younger animals are more likely to receive antibiotics than older animals, the estimation of the true exposure during the total lifetime increases from 13 days to a total of 26 days.

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