You are here:

Antibiotic use in fattening animals: First annual report provides more precise data

16/2023, 31.08.2023

Downward trends continue

From now on, detailed figures on the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry will be available annually. The first report was published today by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). There is a positive trend, particularly in animal categories where antibiotics were previously used particularly frequently and extensively: both the number of treatment days per animal and the total amount of antibiotics used decreased in 2022. In comparison to the previous year, the amount of antibiotics used in cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys fell by 12% overall.

"The decline shows that the antibiotic minimization concept laid down in the Veterinary Medicinal Products Act is effective," says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "This is good news. The reduction in the use of antibiotics reduces the risk of resistant bacteria in the long term. With the help of the annual reports, we are now much closer to what is happening and can make timely recommendations for action."

Starting in 2023, the BfR has been tasked with evaluating the data on antibiotic use annually with regard to its potential significance for consumer health protection. Specifically, the development of the frequency of treatment and the quantities of antimicrobial substances used in fattening calves, fattening cattle, fattening piglets and fattening pigs, broilers and fattening turkeys were examined. In the past, the BfR has already published two reports on the use of antibiotics over longer observation periods. The first annual report is now available - for the year 2022.

Report "Treatment frequency and antibiotic consumption quantities 2022: Development in cattle, pigs, chickens, and turkeys kept for meat production” PDF-File (3.4 MB)

Compared to the previous year, the total amount of antibiotics used on the animal groups examined fell by 12%. In terms of consumed quantities per animal and day, the decline was greatest in fattening piglets and broilers (-12% each), followed by fattening turkeys (-8%), fattening calves (-5%) and fattening pigs (-3%).

The population-wide treatment frequency also decreased. The sharpest decline was seen in fattening pigs (-8%). There was also a further decline in treatment frequency in broilers (-4%), fattening turkeys (-3%), fattening calves and fattening pigs (-2% each). Only in the case of fattening cattle older than eight months did the frequency of treatment and antibiotic consumption increase last year. However, the overall use of antibiotics in this animal category is significantly lower than in all other groups examined.

It should also be emphasized that there was a decrease in the quantities used of the particularly critical antimicrobial substances of 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins (-32%) and polypeptide antibiotics (-24%). The population-wide treatment frequencies for these substances also decreased for the majority of animal categories. The consumed quantities of fluoroquinolones also fell overall (-9%), although four of the six animal categories (fattening calves, fattening piglets, fattening pigs, fattening turkeys) showed an increase in treatment frequency.

The results for 2022 show that broilers had the highest population-wide treatment frequency (45 days per animal and year), followed by fattening turkeys (41 days), fattening calves (26 days), fattening piglets (21 days), fattening pigs (6 days) and fattening cattle (< 1 day). The total amount of antibiotics consumed in the six animal groups studied was 309 tons, of which fattening pigs accounted for the largest share (91 tons), followed by fattening piglets (62 tons), fattening turkeys (56 tons), broilers (52 tons) and fattening calves (46 tons). Less than one ton of antibiotics was used for fattening cattle older than 8 months.

The antibiotic resistance rates of the indicator pathogen E. coli have also decreased in these animal groups in recent years. However, it is clear that not every reduction in the use of antibiotics leads directly to lower resistance rates. Further reduction efforts are therefore required in order to further reduce the risk of consumer exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Previous BfR reports on the use of antibiotics (only available in German):

Report "Treatment frequency and antibiotic consumption 2018-2021: Development in cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys kept for meat production"

Report of the BfR and BVL Working Group on Antibiotic Resistance (AG ABR). Contributions to the evaluation of the 16th AMG amendment: "Development of antibiotic dispensing and consumption volumes and treatment frequency"


Cookie Notice

This site only uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. Find out more on how we use cookies in our Data Protection Declaration.