Objectives: To control the emerging threat of antimicrobial resistance, international policy appeals for appropriate monitoring of antimicrobial usage (AMU) at supranational, species and farm level. The aim of this study was to quantify AMU in broilers at farm and flock level in nine European countries.
Methods: Antimicrobial treatment data of one flock and purchased antimicrobials over one year were collected at 181 European broiler farms. Afterwards AMU was quantified using treatment incidence (TI) per 100 days based on Defined Daily Dose (DDDvet), Defined Course Dose (DCDvet) or Used Daily Dose (UDDvet) values. Total AMU at flock level was obtained by summing the TIDDDvet of all treatments in the sampled flock (TIDDDvetFl*).
Results: The median TIDDDvetFl* was 9.0 (95% CI 5.5-10.8), meaning that broilers were treated with antimicrobials during 9% of their rearing period. TIDDDvetFl* varied considerably within and between countries. However, in every country at least one untreated flock was present. Average TIDDDvetFl* at country level ranged from 3.3 to 36.7. Polymyxins, extended-spectrum aminopenicillins and fluoroquinolones were the most used antimicrobials, accounting for 26%, 26% and 18% of total AMU, respectively. Twenty-six percent of the farms started a treatment on day 1 of production, and 49% of overall AMU was administered within the first week.
Conclusions: Results show that rearing broilers without AMU is feasible. However, a huge variation in AMU in terms of amount, moment of administration and antimicrobial classes was observed. This shows that there is still ground to be covered when it comes to AMU on broiler farms.
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