Vets Defend The Use Of Antibiotics In Animal Husbandry

September 04, 1998

(Anti-microbial resistance : a veterinary perspective)

The use of antibiotics in the livestock industry is controversial. However, in an editorial in this week's BMJ, the Director of the Moredun Research Institute, Dr Quentin McKellar argues that antimicrobials are an extremely valuable resource in livestock production and their prudent use is beneficial.

Dr McKellar indicates that when antimicrobials are used to enhance performance in food producing animals, they are administered at low, subtherapeutic concentrations which are only minimally absorbed. Different antimicrobials are used for humans and animals but there can be a risk of common resistance. Prophylactic use of antibiotics is common in intensive farming to control the spread of infection. As these antibiotics are being used at higher, therapeutic dosages, Dr McKellar argues that prophylactic use is normally only justified if the spread of infection cannot be contained by vaccination, changes in management, or better hygiene.


Dr Quentin McKellar, Moredun Research Institute, International Research Centre, Pencuik, Midlothian


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