A NEW dairy industry group has been launched to coordinate the reduction of veterinary antibiotic use in the UK's milking herds.

Set up by RUMA, the agri-food alliance that promotes 'responsible use' of medicines in farm animals, the Targets Task Force brings together farming, processing, veterinary and support functions across the whole dairy industry, and will identify the responsibilities and actions required of different organisations to achieve reduction targets.

The government has set an average national target for antibiotic use on-farm of 50mg/kg by 2018 – but each sector has to find its own way to that point, thus the need for the TTF to identify meaningful objectives for reducing, refining and replacing antibiotic use at farm level.

The group – chaired by Devon dairy farmer and council member for the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, Di Wastenage – will feed back progress to RUMA as work progresses.

Mrs Wastenage said: “Antibiotic use is of growing importance given concerns over antibiotic resistance. The formation of the group is important to deliver the strategy and will ensure the dairy sector is well-placed to reach its targets.

“Reducing the use of antibiotics must not compromise the health and welfare of dairy cows either, which is why a responsible approach to this challenge is needed," she added. "The strategy will also be an opportunity to improve the health and welfare of the dairy herd, and to raise productivity.”