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Feasibility Study of Veterinary Antibiotic Consumption in Germany

11 February 2014

Comparing two methods of measuring antibiotic use in cattle and pigs, researchers in Germany report that over- or under-estimation of the animal's liveweight may lead to incorrect dosing and increase the risk of the development of antibiotic resistance.

Within a feasibility study, the use of antibiotics in pigs and cattle was determined in 24 veterinary practices in Lower Saxony and on 66 farms in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany by Roswitha Merle of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover.

In a paper in BMC Veterinary Medicine, she and colleagues and co-authors at the University of Leipzig and the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment explain that they focused on the comparison of the Used Daily Doses (UDD; dose per animal and day prescribed by the veterinarians) with the Defined Animal Daily Doses (ADD; dose per animal and day calculated by means of recommended dosages and estimated live weights).

For piglets and calves, most of the UDD (50 per cent and 46 per cent of nUDD, respectively) were above the ADD, i.e. UDD/ADD-ratio above 1.25.

For sows, fattening pigs, dairy and beef cattle, most of the UDDs (49 per cent to 65 per cent of nUDD) were lower than the respective ADD, i.e. UDD/ADD-ratio below 0.8.

In pigs, the UDDs of beta-lactams, fluoroquinolones and cephalosporins, and in cattle, those of macrolides and beta-lactams were often below the ADDs. Tetracyclines were frequently used above the recommended dose.

Enteric diseases were more often treated below the recommended dose than respiratory diseases, possibly due to over-estimation of the liveweight - diarrhoea in young animals, respiratory diseases in older animals - and consequently over-estimation of the recommended dose.

Comparisons between these two parameters can be used to observe differences between antimicrobials and trends in the usage of antibiotics, concluded Merle and co-authors. However, individual treatment comparisons of UDD and ADD must be interpreted carefully, they caution, because they may be due to lower live weights than estimated.

The researchers added that correlating such data with that on the occurrence of resistant bacteria may help to improve resistance prevention and control in future.


Merle R., M. Robanus, C. Hegger-Gravenhorst, Y. Mollenhauer, P. Hajek, A. Käsbohrer, W. Honscha and L. Kreienbrock. 2014. Feasibility study of veterinary antibiotic consumption in Germany - comparison of ADDs and UDDs by animal production type, antimicrobial class and indication. BMC Veterinary Research. 10:7 doi:10.1186/1746-6148-10-7

Further Reading

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January 2014

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