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Antimicrobial use in dairy cattle: ‘what gets measured gets improved’
  1. Lucy Coyne
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Chester High Road, Neston CH64 7TE, UK
  1. e-mail: l.a.coyne{at}

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Antimicrobial use has been shown to be the main driver for the development of resistance in bacteria infecting animals.1–3 Thus, in order to slow the emergence of resistant bacteria it is essential that antimicrobial use is responsible, targeted and administered only when necessary.4,5

There has been mounting media and political pressure on the livestock sectors to reduce antimicrobial use.6 In response, the UK government commissioned the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance in 2014, led by the economist Lord O’Neill. An analysis was made of the global issue of antimicrobial resistance and proposed both UK and international measures to address the problem.7 The report produced laid the foundations for an industry-led working group known as the ‘Targets Task Force’ which advised the government on species-specific reduction targets for the beef, dairy, egg, fish, gamebird, pig, poultry and sheep sectors. These reduction targets were described in October 2017.8

The dairy industry set a target of 21.0 mg/population correction unit (PCU) by 2020 from a baseline of 26.2 mg/PCU in 2015, estimated from antimicrobial prescriptions and sales by veterinary practices …

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