Need for Antibiotics

There are many actions which you can take  to protect your animals from disease. These are presented in the Disease Avoidance or Biosecurity section  of this website, and will help to reduce the need for antibiotics.  Prevention of disease is always better than cure.

If  your vet deems antibiotic treatment  necessary, against the background of your own health prevention preparations (individual Health and Biosecurity Plans on farms), there are many factors that he/she must must consider before prescribing these drugs for your animals:

  • Only he/she can authorise antibiotic treatment and is bound by law to have either examined your animal which requires treatment or have visited your premises /seen your animals in the recent past
  • Sampling helps to ensure the correct diagnosis, to inform treatment for individual animals and for future use on your premises, particularly in the case of repeated infections
  • Different bacteria respond to different antibiotics
  • Not all antibiotics can be used in every species of animal
  • In food producing animals antibiotics may temporarily make milk, meat or meat products unsafe for human consumption, so legal withdrawal periods must always be observed
  • An appropriate antibiotic must be able to be administered effectively, practically and safely
  • Cost – some antibiotics are much more expensive than others
  • Vaccination may reduce the need for antibiotics

Support Your Vet

You can support your vet to by working to reduce your need for antibiotics, so helping to prevent the development of antibiotic resistance:

  • Think ahead regarding disease avoidance, and plan with your vet. Keep vaccinations up to date. On farm, keep your Health and Biosecurity Plans up to date and encourage everyone to use them to prevent disease.
  • Pay careful attention to your animal management and disease avoidance or biosecurity

Do You Need Antibiotics?

Remember that not all diseases are infectious, and not all infections require antibiotic treatment. In particular:

  • Antibiotics have no effect against viruses, parasites or fungi
  • Some infections will resolve without treatment, but always follow your vet’s advice
  • Isolate sick animals to stop spread of infection and minimise numbers requiring treatment