What’s the industry’s stance on using antibiotics?
Antibiotics are one of a range of tools farmers and feedlots use to help to keep animals healthy, together with preventative vaccines, good biosecurity, good nutrition and regular monitoring.
Responsibly using antibiotics to preserve their effectiveness is important not just for humans but also for livestock.
Antibiotics for use in beef cattle are approved by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). All antibiotics undergo a rigorous pre-approval process where the safety to animals, humans and the environment is assessed, and residues in edible beef products are monitored. The APVMA publishes withholding periods for all antibiotics and maintains a list of export slaughter intervals (the minimum time between animals receiving a veterinary prescribed medication and their slaughter for export) for products used in cattle.
The feedlot industry is serviced by a dedicated group of registered veterinarians. These highly trained individuals make regular visits to feedlots to assess beef cattle health and welfare. All scheduled antibiotics used in feedlots are prescribed by veterinarians. As a requirement of the National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme, all animals in the feedlot are individually identified and records of animal treatments are maintained. This ensures withholding periods and export slaughter intervals for treated animals are adhered to and the safety of grainfed beef maintained.
The feedlot industry has developed the Antimicrobial Stewardship Guidelines for the Australian Cattle Feedlot Industry to arm feedlot managers with practical information on antimicrobial resistance and provide a framework to ensure appropriate use of antimicrobials to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance and safeguard the use of these important animal health tools well into the future.
Australia’s livestock industries do not use medically important antibiotics for growth promotion, and antibiotics manufacturers have removed (or are in the process of removing) any label claims for growth promotion from antibiotics important for human health.