Farmers urged to assist vets in populating Medicine Hub

The Medicine Hub will offer an independent central repository to collate and compare UK livestock antibiotic data
The Medicine Hub will offer an independent central repository to collate and compare UK livestock antibiotic data

Farmers are being encouraged to work with livestock vets to assist in populating the national Medicine Hub with farm antibiotic data.

UK farms already have among the lowest use of antibiotics in Europe, however sheep, beef and dairy sectors have found it a challenge to evidence this due to a lack of data at a national-level.

The Medicine Hub intends to address this, offering an independent central repository to collate and compare antibiotic data from a variety of sources, including on-farm use and datasets from vets and processors.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is urging sheep producers to register now to make the most of the Medicine Hub.

NSA policy and technical officer, Sean Riches said: “There has been change in antibiotic use in sheep farming over recent years, but without consolidated information from a coordinated source, continuous tracking and measurement is difficult.

"This is why it is so important for sheep farmers to register with the Medicine Hub and to let their vet know as soon as possible.”

Vets, as the prescriber of antibiotics, have a huge role to play in this, the body said, which is why it is calling on farmers to work with them to be part of developing the platform.

The industry call to action is for sheep, beef and dairy clients to register on the Medicine Hub before the end of 2021 so their vet can confidentially share antibiotic data with it on the farmers’ behalf.

Registration is a first step towards demonstrating the success of a wide range of antibiotic stewardship activities undertaken in these sectors over the past five years.

Mr Riches added: “The data uploaded into the Medicine Hub will be vital for future animal health management practices and the earlier the data is made accessible the better.

"Whilst it is recognised that it will take time for the system and processes to evolve, early engagement will help to establish some familiarity.”

According to a new report released by the government this week, the use of antibiotics in UK livestock has fallen again with sales more than halving over the past six years.

Last year saw another drop in the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals, having reduced by 52% in just six years between 2014 and 2020.

This means that the UK now has one of the lowest levels of antibiotic use in Europe, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate's (VMD) report shows.