When discussing the future of animal health, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) plays a key role.
Antibiotics are an amazing tool in the fight against bacteria and allow for the treatment of infections in both humans and animals. However, overusing them runs the risk of bacteria developing a resistance to these lifesaving medications, potentially rendering them ineffective.
Preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics is essential to the continued success of red meat as an industry, and of animal health and welfare. We need everyone in the industry, including medical and livestock policymakers, veterinarians, farmers, and feedlots to work together to enhance AMR prevention.
Australian feedlots stand out as low users of antimicrobials, thanks to their comprehensive programs built around safeguarding the health of their livestock. One of the most notable examples are the Antimicrobial Stewardship Guidelines which came from an ongoing partnership between MLA and the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA). Published in 2018, this guide spreads awareness of the risks of AMR, and supports producers to establish their own antibiotic stewardship plans based on the following five values:
- Responsibility: Make sure feedlots have a management team that is responsible for the development and implementation of an Antimicrobial Stewardship Plan onsite.
- Reduce: Avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics by adopting preventative measures that maintain high levels of animal health.
- Replace: Where possible use alternative methods to boost livestock’s immune system.
- Refine: Make sure antimicrobials are used in conjunction with correct disease diagnosis and administered correctly.
- Review: Regularly review adherence to the feedlot’s developed Stewardship Plan and revise it to reflect contemporary best practices.
In an interconnected world reliant on trade, any oversight resulting in a spread of AMR could compromise the integrity of the global supply chain. It is therefore critical that each country carefully monitors its use of antibiotics and aligns itself with leading best practices. This is why Australia’s current work on AMR prevention complements efforts like the European Union’s One Health Action Plan Against Antimicrobial Resistance, and why continued research is vital to secure the future of global trade in agrifoods.
- The risks of AMR, and how the welfare of Australian livestock is being preserved: https://www.sustainableaustralianbeef.com.au/antimicrobial-stewardship
Article Date: 27th January 2020