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A survey of antibacterial product use in the Australian cattle industry

The aim of this project was to estimate the volume and indications for use of antimicrobial agents used in beef cattle production. The use of antimicrobials in livestock is under scrutiny because of its possible role in the development of resistance in bacteria and the consequent impact on human health. The project involved a review of the relevant literature and an analysis of the 223 antimicrobial products registered in Australia for use in cattle. A targeted survey of product registrants, feed manufacturers, veterinarians and producers was also undertaken.

The survey found a low rate of use of antibiotics across the industry, although 90%+ of grain-fed cattle receive an ionophore throughout their period on feed. While ionophores and glycophospholipids are classified as antimicrobial agents they have no human counterpart, they are not known to select resistances of public health significance and consequently they do not appear in the WHO or EAGAR ratings. Of the 37 antimicrobial active constituents used in products for cattle, only ceftiofur, a third generation cephalosporin, and virginiamycin, a streptogramin, are perceived as having potential to select resistance of public health importance. Ceftiofur is used occasionally in the treatment of existing respiratory infection and virginiamycin is used to prevent grain poisoning. Both are prescription (Schedule 4) drugs, meaning their use requires veterinary involvement. To manage these and possible future vulnerabilities, the beef industry needs to be able to demonstrate objectively that antimicrobial use is appropriate and judicious and that measures are put in place to ensure preventative management is emphasised. The report makes recommendations to assist this undertaking.


Title Size Date published
1.4MB 28/02/2013


Contract No. Title Start date End date Funding type
A survey of antibacterial product use in the Australian cattle industry.
16/11/2012 28/03/2013
Feedlot monthly antibiotic usage data
01/04/2015 03/03/2017
Quarterly Antibiotic Usage Reporting – 2017 to 2020
22/05/2017 31/10/2020

This page was last updated on 31/07/2018