Massive use of antibiotics in farm animals

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Massive use of antibiotics in livestock farming in Lower Saxony

The use of antibiotics in animal husbandry has been heavily criticized for years. The improper, generous use of antibiotics in the rearing of cattle, pigs and poultry poses significant risks, according to the accusation of environmental protection associations, medical professionals, consumer and animal protection organizations.

The Lower Saxony Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Consumer Protection and Regional Development has now submitted a report on the use of antibiotics in farm animals, in which data on the frequency and duration of treatment and the type of active ingredient used were evaluated. According to the ministry, however, the result does not allow any conclusions to be drawn about the relationship between company size and frequency of drug use. Nor can the frequency of antibiotic treatment be used to conclude that it is being used illegally.

Fattening calf farms use antibiotics most often The evaluation of the data collected by the Lower Saxony Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Consumer Protection and Regional Development gave the following result: In 83 percent of the examined chicken fattening farms and in 93 percent of turkey rearing and fattening farms, antimicrobial agents were used. Antibiotics were administered to fattening pigs in 77 percent and to young beef cattle (feeders) in 80 percent of the farms examined. In farms with fattening calves, 100 percent use antibiotics. According to the ministry, the amount of antibiotics used not only varies from farm to farm, but also from fattening to fattening within a company.

Since the results do not allow a connection between the size of a farm and the frequency of antibiotic use, individual farm data regarding the frequency of therapy should be collected in the future, according to the Lower Saxony Agriculture Minister Gert Lindemann (CDU). The illegal use of the drug could then possibly also be counteracted, whereby the evaluation of the data already collected would not allow any connection between the frequency of antibiotic use and its illegal use, for example to increase the growth of the animals.

Minimization strategy for the use of antibiotics These and other findings should now form the basis for a minimization strategy for the use of antibiotics. Minister Lindemann plans to record the therapy frequency for each individual company in the future. This could be used to make a comparison of the use of medicines, which has a positive influence on the responsible use of antibiotics by animal owners and veterinarians who look after the company. Farms that use little or no antibiotics and use effective livestock management should act as a model for other farms. The minimization strategy also includes the factual evaluation of the test results. Minister Lindemann said: "Sometimes inaccurate conclusions are drawn from surveys too quickly."

Antibiotic use alarming The North Rhine-Westphalian Consumer Protection Minister Johannes Remmel (Alliance 90 / The Greens) expressed less reluctance to use antibiotics in poultry fattening: "For years, the poultry industry and the federal government from the Union and the FDP have repeatedly insured that the use of antibiotics in the animal fattening is just the exception. Now we have it in black and white: the use of antibiotics is the norm and standard practice. "Remmel continues:" The use of antibiotics has reached an alarming level. "Remmel refers to a recent study by the Ministry of Climate Protection, Environment, agriculture, nature and consumer protection of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia on the use of antibiotics in the poultry industry. According to the study, 96.4 percent of the animals examined were given antibiotics. Less than 4 percent of broilers did not receive antibiotics.

Antibiotics used to increase growth It is often assumed that fattening companies use antibiotics not only to fight disease but also to promote growth and thus shorten the duration of fattening. However, the use of antibiotics to promote growth has been banned across the EU since 2006. NDR Info reports on its website that broilers still receive up to eight different antibiotics in a conventional farm - where the broilers live an average of 35 days until slaughter. For broilers that are only treated to a small extent with antibiotics, the rearing phase is extended to an average of 45 days before slaughter, according to NDR Info. According to the NRW study, the antibiotics were only administered for one to two days in 53 percent of the cases examined. Since an antibiotic has to be administered for five to six days before the pathogen dies, the reduced intake can lead to resistance with serious consequences. For this reason, such a short administration period is not permitted. Minister Remmel had commissioned the study to finally get reliable figures on antibiotic use in the poultry industry.

Poultry lobby is against data collection In Germany, data on medication delivery according to postcodes has been stored in a nationwide file (DIMDI) since this year. The poultry industry is excluded. Privacy concerns have been raised. This exception is strongly criticized by veterinarians, Greens politicians and data protection officers. Minister Remmel announced to NDR Info to review this Federal Council initiative in order to reverse the regulation. (ag)

Also read:
Health: Chicken full of antibiotics
Chicken contaminated with antibiotics
Health: Chicken full of antibiotics
Alternatives to antibiotics from naturopathy
Individual dosing of antibiotics required
There are no mild antibiotics

Image: Nico Lubaczowski /

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