The British poultry sector has achieved an 82 percent reduction in the total use of antibiotics in the last six years.
The British Poultry Council (BPC) has highlighted the sector's "significant achievements" in slashing the use of antibiotics in a new report.
The 2018 Antibiotic Stewardship Report highlights the progress made by the poultry meat sector, and its drive for excellence in bird health and welfare.
The report highlights the sector achieved an 82% reduction in the total use of antibiotics in the last six years, and a 39.36% reduction in the total use of antibiotics in the last year.
It also shows a 91% reduction in the use of Fluoroquinolones (a critically important antibiotic for human health) in the last six years.
British Poultry Council Chairman, John Reed applauded the results, and said the sector is delivering excellence in bird health and welfare by monitoring and reviewing on-farm management practices.
“Poultry is half of the meat eaten in the UK and we use less than 9.7% of the total antibiotics licensed for food producing animals,” Mr Reed said.
“We have successfully reduced our antibiotic use by 82% in the last six years and have stopped all preventative treatments as well as the use of colistin. The highest priority antibiotics that are critically important for humans are used only as a ‘last resort’.
Mr Reed added: “Our farmers and veterinarians need antibiotics in their toolbox to preserve the health and welfare of our birds. Responsible use of antibiotics is about so much more than reduction targets. Zero use is neither ethical nor sustainable as it goes against farmers’ duty to alleviate pain and suffering.”
UK Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss said the achievements made by members of the BPC are "remarkable".
“Continuously reviewing on-farm biosecurity and disease management practices whilst ensuring prudent use of antibiotics is integral to the sustainability of British agriculture,” Ms Middlemiss said.
“The dedication and determination of BPC’s members to deliver responsible reductions in the use of antibiotics will help to protect and preserve the efficacy of antibiotics going forward.”
The poultry figures follows news of the pig sector reducing antibiotic usage in the UK by 28 per cent in 2017, bringing the total reduction in two years to more than 50 per cent.
Targets for further reducing, refining or replacing antibiotic use across the key livestock sectors were announced last year by the Targets Task Force.