Critically Important Antibiotics

Critically important antibiotic usage has come to the forefront of both vet and farmer attention in the past few years. Red Tractor requirements are aligning with milk contracts to restrict the usage of certain antibiotics and limit overall antibiotic usage.

Critically important antibiotics are antibiotics that have been classified by the World Health Organisation as the sole, or one of limited available therapies, to treat serious bacterial infections in people. Their usage in veterinary medicine will promote strains of bacteria that are resistant to treatment and therefore the usage is now tightly regulated. The main classes of veterinary antibiotics that have been classified as critically important are 3rd & 4th generation cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones. These include Baytril, Cevaxel, Naxcel, Cobactan, Marbocyl, Forcyl and Cephaguard.

As part of an antimicrobial initiative at Larkmead last year, we took steps to seriously reduce the usage of these antibiotics on farm. These included not selling whole bottles of critically important antibiotics and changing health plans to ensure first line antibiotics were used. This made the Red Tractor requirements a straight forward adjustment for the majority of our farms.

Moving forward, Red Tractor now needs veterinary justification for any critically important antibiotics used on farm. This justification must be the results of a culture and sensitivity test. This means that we must have sampled the offending bacteria and demonstrated that no other antibiotic will provide an effective treatment.

These guidelines have not only encouraged vets to scrutinise their prescribing of antibiotics but they have also encouraged us to look for more targeted treatment with culture and sensitivity.

Get in touch with the farm office if you want an antibiotic usage report for your farm.