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Can oral group medication be improved to reduce antimicrobial use?
  1. Aude A. Ferran and
  2. Béatrice B. Roques
  1. INTHERES, Université de Toulouse, INRA, ENVT, Toulouse, France
  1. email: a.ferran{at}

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Of the antimicrobials sold to treat food-producing animals in Europe in 2016, 90.1 per cent were designated for group treatment.1 Group treatment, administered through drinking water or feed, enables farmers to easily treat a large number of animals as soon as clinical signs of disease are observed in the group. This practice – referred to as metaphylaxis or control treatment – has the advantage of quickly treating many animals at the same time in order to slow the spread of disease.

It has been shown that metaphylactic treatments are associated with higher cure rates than curative treatments administered when animals are already exhibiting clinical signs of disease.2,3 However, the European guidelines for the prudent use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine4 highlight treatment via feed and drinking water as a major concern in the development of antimicrobial resistance.

To help limit the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance, it is necessary to control the concentration of antimicrobials in feed and drinking water, the quantity delivered to the animals and the quantity ingested by each animal. In a study summarised on p 405 of this issue of Vet Record, Vandael and colleagues investigate the use of medicated feed and drinking water on Belgian pig farms and discuss the hurdles that have to be overcome to meet these three criteria.5

Vandael and colleagues found discrepancies in the preparation of medicated feed and drinking water. The concentration incorporated into feed seems to be reasonably well controlled, with 68.2 per cent of the pig farms surveyed purchased premixed medicated feed from a manufacturer. However, the use of …

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