MLA-funded project examines antimicrobials

28 November 2016

Encouraging judicious use of antimicrobials in Australian feedlots will be the focus of the first outcome of a two-year project funded by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) in consultation with the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA).

Principles of Antimicrobial Stewardship for the Australian feedlot industry will be released in January, as part of the National Feedlot Animal Health Management Program that commenced in April 2016.

MLA has engaged several leading feedlot veterinarians, including Dr Kev Sullivan, Dr Paul Cusack and Dr David Frith. Researcher Dr Darren Trott and antimicrobial stewardship expert Dr Stephen Page are also integrally involved.

MLA Feedlot Project Manager Dr Joe McMeniman said the National Feedlot Animal Health Management Program is an example of the commitment the local feedlot industry has towards maintaining its strong standing as a supplier of safe and nutritious beef.

“The first outcome of the Program directly aligns with key objectives of Australia’s first National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy and Implementation Plan (2015-2019), released jointly by the Australian Department of Health and Department of Agriculture and Water Resources,” Dr McMeniman said.

“The goal of that strategy is to reduce the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance, or AMR, and ensure the continued availability and effectiveness of antimicrobials in both humans and animals.

“The Australian feedlot industry is in good shape. Under the National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme, antimicrobials must be administered by trained personnel and their use recorded. The majority of antimicrobials used in the feedlot industry are either not used in humans or of low importance in human medicine.

“Critical classes of antimicrobials require a veterinary script, and are used under directives of the consulting feedlot veterinarian. They are only used sparingly in sick animals in emergency cases, with strict adherence to with-holding periods and export slaughter intervals.

“Importantly, past research funded by MLA analysing AMR in grainfed beef reported no resistance to critical antimicrobials used in human medicine, demonstrating the effectiveness of the antimicrobial stewardship already in place in the industry.

“It’s imperative that the Australian feedlot industry continues to remain proactive in this field to maximise animal health and welfare outcomes, maintain human health and preserve key domestic and international markets.”

The National Feedlot Animal Health Program will be completed in early 2018.

MLA will publish recommendations around evidence-based infection prevention and control measures to ensure that when animal health treatments are required, they are used appropriately and prudently to minimise the potential development of antimicrobial resistance in both cattle and humans.

A framework for formal training in animal health management for the feedlot industry will also be developed.

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