SHEEP SECTOR heads have said that they cannot be complacent over the issue of agricultural antibiotic use.
This summer, a survey commissioned by NSA, AHDB Beef and Lamb, and MSB revealed where antibiotics were being used, and for what reason, within sheep farming systems.
Results from this survey, which come from over 350 farmers, are currently being analysed by independent sheep specialist, Kate Phillips, and Karen Wheeler, of ADAS, and the pair hope this will give a view on how to guide future support and development work.
NSA chief executive, Phil Stocker, said: “The sheep sector is taking antimicrobial use very seriously. We need to play our part in ensuring these medicines continue to be available and effective for both our human and animal populations. 
“To focus our efforts, we need to understand why and when farmers are choosing to use antibiotics, so we can steer future work towards increasing vaccination for some conditions and finding alternative solutions to others.”
Recently, 193 countries signed a declaration to work together in order to combat the risks of antimicrobial resistance, which is recognised as a global challenge. Defra has confirmed its commitment to an average cross-UK, cross-sector target which will aim to reduce usage by 19% over a four-year period.
To support the industry towards achieving this goal, and beyond, the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance is helping individual sectors identify specific objectives and ensure more responsible use. 
MSD animal health technical manager John Atkinson, said: “The continued focus on reducing the use of antibiotics in farmed livestock means it is vital that the whole UK sheep industry embraces active flock health planning. 
“Our aim is to actively support this positive move for the industry by providing a technical advice platform for both vets and sheep farmers that is designed to optimise flock health and performance.”