Important in animal husbandry is ensuring proper health and welfare for the animals. Strict measures on for instance housing environment and management are taken to prevent animals from becoming infected with diseases.
Sometimes infections do occur, after which animals might need treatment. Often this involves the use of antibiotics, which support a quick recovery.
The side-effects of antibiotic use
In the last couple of years, it has become clear that the frequent use of antibiotics has side effects. Uncontrolled use of antibiotics can lead to bacteria developing resistance. This means the antibiotics do not affect them anymore and the infections become incurable. Not only has this its effect in the animal sector, but it is also shown these resistant bacteria can transit to humans, making treatment of human diseases more difficult.
Government and organization of veterinarians, decided in 2008 on a plan to reduce the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry.
Strong reduction of antibiotic use
To turn the tide, the Dutch animal sectors, government and organization of veterinarians, decided in 2008 on a plan to reduce the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry.
And with major success.
In 2017, the overall reduction in the animal sectors already reached 63%. For broilers, the reduction was even higher with 74%. The use of antibiotics critical in human health care, so-called third generation antibiotics, has reduced even further.
Some of the agreements taken up in the plan are for instance that only veterinarians may prescribe antibiotics after assessing the situation on the farm. Earlier, farmers were allowed to administer antibiotics by themselves.
All use of antibiotics is registered in a central database, in the Netherlands controlled by the Autoriteit Diergeneesmiddelen (SDa).
The fact that animals containing residues of antibiotics may not be slaughtered for human consumption is another example.
Action plan for further reduction
The animal sectors, ministries and association of veterinarians came to a new agreement in 2015 as the reduction seemed to slow down. Every animal sector developed its own plans to reduce the use of antibiotics even more before 2020. The plan is already successful: in 2017, the use of antibiotics in the broiler sector reduced with 74% compared to 2009.