Use of Oxytetracycline and Tylosin in Intensive Calf Farming: Evaluation of Transfer to Manure and Soil

Chemosphere. 2003 Jul;52(1):203-12. doi: 10.1016/S0045-6535(03)00284-4.


Antibiotics may enter soils with manure from treated animals. Because of their biological effects, antibiotics are regarded as potential micropollutants. The levels of oxytetracycline and tylosin over time were followed in faeces, bedding and manure, and then in the soil of a manured field and surrounding drainage courses, after oral treatment of calves. Fifty Simmental calves were treated for 5 days with 60 mg/kg/day of oxytetracycline. After 15 days the animals were treated for 5 days with 20 mg/kg/day of tylosin. Tylosin degraded rapidly, and was no longer detected in manure 45 days after cessation of treatment and no trace of the compound was detected in soil or surrounding water (detection limits 10 microg/l). The half-life of oxytetracycline in manure was 30 days and the compound was still detectable in this matrix (820 microg/kg) after 5 months maturation. In the manured soil oxytetracycline was detected at concentrations at least 10 times lower than the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products threshold (100 microg/kg) requiring phase II environmental risk assessment. Oxytetracycline was not detected in the water courses (detection limit 1 microg/l). These results demonstrate that the processes occurring between faeces production and application of manure to the soil are very effective in reducing the load of TYL and OTC in the environment. For both drugs a toxicity test was performed using the alga Selenastrum capricornutum. The EC50 was 4.18 mg/l for oxytetracycline and 0.95 mg/l for tylosin. A worst-case hazard assessment for the aquatic environment was performed comparing the ratio between the measured concentrations (LOD) and effect data from previous work (OTC) or from this work (TYL). This showed ratio between toxicity levels (bacteria) (EC50=0.14 mg/l) and measured concentrations (LOD=1 microg/l) for OTC to be 140. The corresponding value for TYL (LOD=10 microg/l) was 95.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / analysis*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / toxicity
  • Cattle
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Eukaryota
  • Lethal Dose 50
  • Manure*
  • Oxytetracycline / analysis*
  • Oxytetracycline / toxicity
  • Risk Assessment
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*
  • Soil Pollutants / toxicity
  • Toxicity Tests
  • Tylosin / analysis*
  • Tylosin / toxicity
  • Water Pollutants / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants / toxicity


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Manure
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Water Pollutants
  • Oxytetracycline
  • Tylosin