Antibiotic usage in livestock farming in 2017 was reported to have dropped 3% year-on-year, a reduction of 3.4t, marking a 28% fall in usage since 2009.
According to monitoring by DANMAP, the Danish Programme for surveillance of antimicrobial consumption and resistance in bacteria from animals, food and humans, usage between 2013 and 2017 has been reduced every year – by at least 16t or around 14%.
Recent EU statistics, drug consumption in Danish livestock farming in 2016, at 40.8 mg/kg PCU, was less than one-third of the corresponding EU average of 124.6 mg/kg PCU. PCU (Population Correction Unit) is the theoretical unit of measurement developed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in 2009 and adopted across Europe.
Since pig production accounts for 85% of Danish meat production, the reduction was achieved primarily in this area, with antibiotic doses reduced by 4% in 2017 compared to the previous year.
The Danish Association of Agriculture & Food cited its Yellow Card programme as one of the reasons behind the drop in usage. The scheme, introduced by the Veterinary and Food Directorate in 2010, includes penalties for exceeding the limits set for antibiotic use.
"In 2010, the introduction of the Yellow Card provided a significant incentive to reduce antibiotic use in the pig industry. In addition, farmers are using antibiotics in a more educated and informed manner,” said Jan Dahl, veterinarian and chief consultant in the Danish Association of Agriculture & Food.
Specialist advisor Birgitte Borck Høg, from DTU Food, added: "In this area further reduction is particularly important. Antibiotics, which are used as a last resort in the treatment of humans, are of utmost importance for human medicine. For this reason, they may only be prescribed in veterinary medicine if all other means fail.”