Beef, sheep and dairy vets get tailored support on antimicrobial stewardship to plug data gaps

Veterinary charity RCVS Knowledge is offering beef, sheep and dairy vets tailored support on antimicrobial stewardship as part of a national initiative to increase data collection on the use of antimicrobials in the ruminant sector.

Medicine Hub, developed by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), is an online tool for dairy, beef, and sheep producers to compare medicine use and tackle the threat of antibiotic resistance. Currently, reported data on the Medicine Hub represents 28% of dairy and 9% of sheep sectors respectively. There is wide scope for improved data collection across all ruminant sectors.

To this end, RCVS Knowledge, with funding provided by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), is working with individual veterinary professionals in collaboration with the red meat and dairy sectors and AHDB to support veterinary teams to improve their use of Medicine Hub. It is part of the charity’s overall ambition to support ongoing improvements in veterinary antimicrobial stewardship.

“We know that – while it’s always possible to improve – antibiotic use is low in UK ruminant production,” says Fiona Lovatt, RCVS Knowledge Clinical Lead for Medicines, “But without the collation of farm level data, the sector is unable to demonstrate this. Increasingly, EU legislation requires member nations to collate these data. The UK ruminant sector needs clear evidence to align with this to retain competitiveness in trading negotiations and protect its reputation.”

RCVS Knowledge is working with its Farm Vet Champions community, a group formed by the charity to unite and implement practical changes to tackle antimicrobial resistance, to provide tailored support to farm vets and their practice teams, including one-to-one consultations and in-person workshops.

By encouraging Farm Vet Champions to set a series of SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) goals, teams will improve their antimicrobial stewardship credentials and plan practical ways to fill data gaps by guiding the practice team to work with their clients to upload farm level data to the Medicine Hub. In doing so, this will also support the red meat and dairy sectors to close the gap on the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) targets, which are for the reporting of 2024 farm data from 8,000 sheep flocks, 8,000 beef herds, and 95% of the dairy industry.

Fiona Lovatt said: “We are very grateful to the VMD for backing our Farm Vet Champions project, which will allow us to empower more farm vets and their team members to play their part in delivering on national targets, by making small but meaningful changes both within their practices and out on farm, and in their engagement with farmers, shepherds, and herdsmen.

“I am so encouraged every time I have a conversation with an individual vet or a group of practice team members about how they are engaging with their farm clients. This is not just a project about data and figures, it is about conversations, relationships, healthy animals, and good practice. It is about doing the right thing, about the reputation of the red meat and dairy sectors, and the reputation of the farm veterinary professions.

“We want to set specific, measurable, and achievable goals and we want to collate national data, but we want to go about it in a way that empowers individuals and encourages teams and for that, the Farm Vet Champion community is ideal.”

The Farm Vet Champions learning platform offers free CPD on antimicrobial stewardship for the whole veterinary team. If you have a Farm Vet Champion team within your practice who would like tailored support to set SMART goals and collate ruminant data, contact RCVS Knowledge at

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