New downward trend in the consumption of antibiotics in animal husbandry in Belgium

date: 22/06/2020

The new BelVet-SAC report which contains an overview of the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine is available. The 2019 results confirm the trends of previous years with consumption down 7.8% for mg of active substance/kg of biomass compared to last year. Compared to the 2011 reference year, the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine has decreased by 40.3%.

To combat antibiotic resistance, it is very important to monitor the consumption of antibiotics in animals. This is why, each year, UGent and the scientific unit of the non-profit organisation AMCRA analyse the data relating to the sale and use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine in close collaboration with the FAMHP and at the latter's request. The 2019 results are now available in the eleventh BelVet-SAC report.

Figures for 2019
In 2019, the consumption of antibiotics decreased by 7.8% for mg of active substance/kg of biomass compared to 2018. Since 2011, total consumption has dropped by 40.3%, with a decrease in the consumption of both premixes (down 71.1%) and pharmaceutical products (down 33.0%).

Expressed in absolute quantities of active substance, consumption decreased by 10.5% compared to 2018. More specifically, pharmaceutical products were -10.7% and premixes were -8%. On the other hand, there was a decrease of 3.13% in the total animal biomass in 2019 compared to 2018, so the decrease in consumption expressed relative to biomass is a little less significant than the decrease expressed in absolute quantities.

For the fourth consecutive year, the use of antibacterial premixes has decreased substantially. The use of antibacterial premixes has therefore fallen by 71.1% since 2011. The first strategic objective of using half as many premixes has therefore largely been achieved and the sector is managing to further reduce consumption. 

However, not all of the news is good. The use of “red” products, critical substances of great importance for human medicine, has increased by 8% in 2019 compared to 2018. In 2018, a slight increase in these products had already been noticed, following a sharp drop in their consumption in 2017 and 2016.
Overall, since 2011, the reduction in consumption of critical products still amounts to 77.3%. The sector is therefore still on track to meet its objective of reducing consumption by 75% by 2020.

The continuous increase in the use of dry-cow products in dairy farming since 2015 is worrying. The use of intramammary products for the treatment of mastitis has also increased in the past three years. The amount of antibiotics used in dogs and cats was up 13% in 2019. Compared to 2014, there is an even bigger increase of 24.3%. These results clearly demonstrate that the dairy and pet sectors urgently need to take steps to reduce the consumption of antibiotics.

Halving the consumption of antibiotics in animal husbandry is still possible
At the moment, two of the three AMCRA objectives have been achieved: the halving of the use of premixes and a 75% reduction in the consumption of critical antibiotics. The results for 2019, where a total decrease of 40.3% in the consumption of antibiotics compared to the reference year 2011 was achieved, are encouraging. But to achieve the objective of a total reduction of 50% by the end of 2020, all sectors concerned will have to make significant efforts. The pig and calf fattening sectors are encouraged to continue their momentum, while the broiler, dairy cow and pet sectors are incited to make additional efforts to achieve the necessary reductions.

Additional Information
BelVet-SAC report 2019
Previous BelVet-SAC reports (in French)



Last updated on 02/07/2020