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Evaluation of metrics for benchmarking antimicrobial use in the UK dairy industry
  1. Harriet L Mills1,2,
  2. Andrea Turner1,
  3. Lisa Morgans1,
  4. Jonathan Massey1,
  5. Hannah Schubert1,
  6. Gwen Rees1,
  7. David Barrett1,
  8. Andrew Dowsey1 and
  9. Kristen K Reyher1
  1. 1 Bristol Veterinary School, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  2. 2 MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence; kristen.reyher{at}


The issue of antimicrobial resistance is of global concern across human and animal health. In 2016, the UK government committed to new targets for reducing antimicrobial use (AMU) in livestock. Although a number of metrics for quantifying AMU are defined in the literature, all give slightly different interpretations. This paper evaluates a selection of metrics for AMU in the dairy industry: total mg, total mg/kg, daily dose and daily course metrics. Although the focus is on their application to the dairy industry, the metrics and issues discussed are relevant across livestock sectors. In order to be used widely, a metric should be understandable and relevant to the veterinarians and farmers who are prescribing and using antimicrobials. This means that clear methods, assumptions (and possible biases), standardised values and exceptions should be published for all metrics. Particularly relevant are assumptions around the number and weight of cattle at risk of treatment and definitions of dose rates and course lengths; incorrect assumptions can mean metrics over-represent or under-represent AMU. The authors recommend that the UK dairy industry work towards the UK-specific metrics using the UK-specific medicine dose and course regimens as well as cattle weights in order to monitor trends nationally.

  • antimicrobial Use
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • dairy cattle

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  • Funding HLM is supported through Bristol Bridge, an Antimicrobial Resistance Cross-Council Initiative supported by the seven UK research councils: Bridging the Gaps between the Engineering and Physical Sciences and Antimicrobial Resistance (grant number EP/M027546/1). AT is funded by the Pat Impson Memorial Fund of the Langford Trust and GR is also funded by PhD scholarship from the Langford Trust. LM is funded by ADHB Dairy and the Langford Trust. JM is funded by an internal scholarship through the Bristol Veterinary School. HS is supported by the OH-STAR (One Health Selection and Transmission of Antimicrobial Resistance) Project, which is funded by the Antimicrobial Resistance Cross-Council Initiative supported by the seven UK research councils (grant number NE/N01961X/1).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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