November 22, 2018
Use of vaccines in UK cattle up, antibiotics down
In a report published by the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), it was revealed that the total number of vaccine doses sold for use in cattle increased by 15% between 2011 and 2017. Sales of vaccines peaked in 2014, but dropped before recovering in 2017.
AHDB said the drop in uptake in 2015 and 2016 might have been related to the collapse in milk prices and in dairy farmer incomes.
It said the drop in sales of antibiotics for use in livestock in 2017 showed that farmers and veterinarians were being proactive and looking for ways to improve animal health without relying on antimicrobials.
Derek Armstrong, AHDB lead on veterinary matters, also explained that vaccines play an important part in helping meet the industry targets to use antibiotics more prudently, to reduce disease and improve animal welfare and performance.
"Strategic vaccination should be part of every farmer's plan to protect animal health", he stressed.
The study showed that the biggest increase in vaccine use over the period was for infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), which was up 43%, and calf pneumonia, up 30%.
IBR causes severe respiratory disease, which can lead to fatal pneumonia. In adult cows, infection is associated with a severe and prolonged drop in milk yield, reduced fertility and abortions, and inflammation of the vulva/prepuce.
"The increase in use of vaccines to protect against pneumonia is particularly welcome, as this is one of the diseases which has the biggest effect on animals and one of the commonest reasons for use of antibiotics in cattle. There is, however, considerable scope to offer cattle more protection from common diseases", Derek said.