Treat your Cows blog Recently, the European Medicines Agency also published standardised units for use in veterinary medicine called “Defined Daily Doses vet” (DDDvet). These are comparable to the Defined Daily Doses used for decades in human medicine. As we had access to the precise number of cattle on each of our study farms (via the national cattle movement database), we calculated the number of DDDvet for each antibiotic per cow and year to obtain as accurate a metric as possible.
We determined that the overall antimicrobial use for treating udder diseases on Austrian dairy farms was relatively low, with an average number of 1.3 doses administered per cow each year. However, of these treatments, 0.7 doses per cow and year were made up of the highest priority critically important antimicrobials (HPCIAs) and were, therefore, considered essential for human medicine.
These findings are important as they show how much the dairy industry depends on these critical antimicrobials and how it is vital that regulatory authorities, governments and pharmaceutical companies work together to ensure that other, effective – but not vital for human health – antibiotic products remain on the market for veterinary use.
These results will allow us to develop training packages for both veterinarians and farmers and to provide information to veterinarians on which antimicrobials to use or avoid. Having the data to back up policy decisions will also help ministry officials to update the prudent use of antimicrobials guidelines
n future, our study team will focus on how to reduce antimicrobial use overall through a variety of farm management measures. We have also begun collecting environmental samples from the study farms to assess the level of antimicrobial resistance present.
Whether veterinarians or medics, farmers or consumers, antimicrobial use and the possible development of antimicrobial resistance affects us all. We cannot ignore the problem, we all need to work together to reduce unnecessary use and protect these vital medicines.
However, while we welcome limitations on unnecessary use, particularly of those antibiotics considered critical for human health, we feel it is essential to emphasize that sick animals deserve to be treated. Not treating them leads to animal welfare issues. For this reason, we are looking forward to working together with our fellow veterinarians in developing responsible treatment protocols to ensure dairy cows are kept happy and healthy and able to provide consumers with great quality milk!