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Stark choice for game industry on antibiotics

The game industry has been given a stark choice - cut antibiotic use in gamebirds by another 25% or risk new regulation

antibiotic use in game birds

The coalition says cutting the use of antibiotics in game birds could help to save human lives in the long-term

A coalition of shooting and veterinary groups has urged the game sector to make further cuts to antibiotic use in game birds.

A joint statement has been released by the British Veterinary Association, BASC, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Countryside Alliance, the British Veterinary Poultry Association, the Game Farmers’ Association, the Game Feed Trade Association, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, Ruma and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

It asks that “UK gamebird rearers, any shoots that release game, game feed suppliers, vets who look after game birds and everyone else with an interest in game bird husbandry and game shooting” take steps to reduce antibiotic use.

The plea comes amid growing worldwide concern about the increasing resistance of many infections to antibiotics. “Unless we act now, human deaths associated with antimicrobial resistance could rise to 10million a year by 2050 — more than currently die from cancer,” says the statement.

Game industry substantial reduction

The game industry has already managed a substantial reduction 
in the past year, but these groups say further action is necessary.

“The good news is that with the help of many of you, we smashed our 25 per cent reduction target for 2017, achieving a 36 per cent reduction in just one year, with the use of antibiotics in game feeds falling by an impressive 53 per cent. But it is only a start,” they wrote.

“The bad news is that ours remains a high usage sector and we need to carry on reducing our antibiotics as quickly as we can without compromising animal welfare. The World Health Organisation and others have made it quite clear that if antibiotic use cannot be cut voluntarily across 
all livestock sectors, regulation 
will have to follow.”

Target to reduce by further 25%

The groups have set a new target for the game sector — to reduce use by another 25 per cent by the end of 2020. Their statement sets out a five-point plan to do so.

Measures include adhering to the best possible game bird management to reduce disease and the need for antibiotics; best practice in prescribing antibiotics; recording all antibiotic use and monitoring of bird welfare; sharing information such as disease issues and treatments used; and clamping down on unlawful antibiotic supply.

You can read the full statement and action plan here. 

“Please take whatever action you can to reduce antibiotic use in 2018,” urged the groups. “It won’t always be easy but at the end of the day, it will be good for us all.”