News 311 views last update:7 Aug 2012

More antibiotic use in Dutch pig/poultry industry

Antibiotic use in the Dutch livestock industry has risen 9% in 2007 in comparison to the year before, Dutch agricultural newspaper Agrarisch Dagblad reports.

Research by the Dutch agricultural economic institute (LEI), part of Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR) revealed that growth appeared in the finishing pig industry and the broiler industry. Usage in dairy farming and sow breeding farms stayed the same.

LEI based her opinion on figures from the Dutch organsation of manufacturers and importers of animal health products (Fidin).The research showed that in the period 2004-2007, the usage in finisher pigs increased by 3.5 daily dosages a year. The type of antibiotics changed as well – less tetracyclines and more colistinephosphates and macrolides. In the broiler industry, the daily use increased by 13.8 daily dosages per animal year. At dairy farms, things stayed more or less the same – the daily dosage decreased from 3.5 daily dosages in 2006 to 2.9 daily dosages in 2007. Over the period 1999-2007, the antibiotic usage grew by 3%. Therapeutical use grew in this period by 83%; the use of antibiotic growth promoters was banned in 2006.

First reactions express concern about the figures. "These figures are an indication, but they do most certainly not fully represent the actual situation," said chairman Wyno Zwanenburg, Dutch Union of Pig Producers."The research has been carried out at 52 finisher and 42 breeding farms. That is rather limited. We know large differences exist between farms." Annechien ten Have, pig spokesperson of the Dutch agri- and horticultural organisation (LTO) emphasises the necessity to have a masterplan to contain antibiotic use. "These figures show the trend for 2008 as well. I expect to see the first results in 2010." "Apart from a representative measurement, we would also like to know why antibiotics have been used, so we can fight its use," said Jan Wolleswinkel, poultry spokesperson.

Parliamentary questions
Even in Dutch parliament, questions were asked about the latest figures. The usage of antibiotics in livestock has to come down quickly and a structural change is necessary, Dutch agricultural minister Gerda Verburg said yesterday. Recently agreed covenant regarding antibiotics resistance is a first good step, said Verburg. "However, it is not sufficient. The increase is still going vertically up." Several political parties used the figures to launch a new plea for the return of meat and bone meal in pig and poultry feed. Its absence would be one of the causes why livestock seem to show less resistance – and whould reduce the dependance on antibiotics. This, however, would require a European approach, the minister replied. Antibiotic growth is also reported to have grown in Denmark and Germany.

Related websites:
Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR)  
Dutch agricultural and economic institute (LEI)  
Dutch organisation for manufacturers and importers of animal health products (Fidin)  
Dutch union for pig producers (NVV)  
Dutch agri- and horticultural organisation (LTO)

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