Evaluation of metrics for benchmarking antimicrobial use in the UK dairy industry

Harriet L. Mills, Andrea Turner, Lisa Morgans, Jonathan Massey, Hannah Schubert, Gwen Rees, David Barrett, Andrew Dowsey, Kristen K. Reyher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)
492 Downloads (Pure)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalVeterinary Record
Issue number13
Early online date24 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2018

Structured keywords

  • Bristol Population Health Science Institute


  • antimicrobial use
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • dairy cattle


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