Gaining a picture on antibiotic use in GB dairy herds - FarmAssist Summary 2017 – 2020 

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NMR have recently released the first national summary of data from FarmAssist. The FarmAssist service records and reports antibiotic use for participating milk processors, vets and producers.

Medicine records are collected from vet practices and with more than 200 veterinary practices now involved, and data from 1,129 dairy herds, the report provides an excellent reference source to describe the use of antibiotics on dairy herds in GB. The summary report was shared with industry colleagues and it was great to have positive feedback – Chris Lloyd, Secretary General of the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance said: “We know that the gathering of robust data is vital in helping drive informed decision making to refine management practices and where sensible, bring about sustainable reductions in antibiotic use in farm animals. Antibiotic use in UK agriculture is among the lowest in Europe, but historically, dairy, beef and sheep sectors have struggled to evidence usage levels. This comprehensive national summary of data from the FarmAssist Scheme, which captures antibiotic use for participating milk processors, vets and producers, is an excellent resource to describe the use of antibiotics on dairy herds in Great Britain. Initiatives like the FarmAssist Scheme, alongside the recently launched AHDB Medicine Hub, will prove invaluable in helping to engage producers and with their vets put the right plans in place to achieve the reduction targets over the coming years.”

Key findings from the FarmAssist data show that the overall use of antibiotics on dairy farms reduced from 22.7 mg/PCU in 2017 to 19.7 mg/PCU in 2020. There is also a marked reduction in the use of injectable and intramammary high priority critically important antibiotics (HPCIA) – 64% of herds recorded HPCIA use in 2017 compared to 9% in 2020. In 2020, 99% of herds were below the RUMA target for HPCIA use for both injectable and intramammary tubes, up from 66% and 80% respectively in 2017.

The FarmAssist service collects data on antibiotics sold or prescribed which are analysed using standard RUMA metrics and the results can be used for benchmarking to help vets see how their farm clients measure up against the wider dataset. With more milk processors coming on board the FarmAssist service is growing and has an increasing role in the assurance of the milk supply chain for our producer, vet, milk processor and retailer clients.

The summary report is available on the NMR and NML website (FarmAssist Summary 2017-2020.pdf ( and for more information on FarmAssist please contact

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