Antibiotics are being used less and less in farms, not in livestock

The administration of antibiotics to farm animals has been falling almost continuously in France for ten years, reported on Thursday the health agency Anses, which aims to monitor the increased exposure of cats, dogs and horses to these molecules .

Since 2011, the starting point of the first “Ecoantibio” plan, exposure to antibiotics has decreased by 67.9% for chicken, 58.5% for pigs, 44.7% for rabbits and 23% for cattle. , indicates ANSES in a press kit.

Most recently between 2020 and 2021, this exposure decreased by 0.9% for cattle, 7.2% for pigs, 8.6% for chicken and 12.7% for rabbits.

In pig farming, for example, the French leader Cooperl claimed to limit the use of antibiotics by eliminating castration, which is synonymous with wounds that are likely to become infected. He also chooses “stable animals” that thrive in buildings that are “as clean as possible”. In the event of a malfunction, “alternative treatments” (antioxidants, thinners, analgesics) are given priority.

Authorities are encouraging to reduce the use of antibiotics in humans and animals to prevent the development of bacteria resistant to treatment (antibiotic resistance).

In rabbits – the species most exposed to antibiotics – the 12.7% drop in one year follows several years of increases. To treat these animals, which are particularly prone to digestive diseases, antibiotics are routinely administered preventively, a practice that has been banned since the beginning of 2022 at the European level.

“Plans to control the consumption of antibiotics have been put in place by breeders. Due to the decrease we have observed (in 2021), we can imagine that this practice is rather on the way out” in the rabbit industry , said Gilles Salvat, Deputy Director General of the Research Division of ANSES, in a press presentation.

The Rabbit Interprofession (Clipp) maintains that the regulations are “strictly followed by breeders”. “Under no circumstances is it possible to prescribe and deliver antibiotics without establishing a diagnosis by a veterinarian”, he assured this week in a press release, after the broadcast on France 5 of a report reporting the regular use case.

– Breeding of “tougher” animals –

Unlike animals, antibiotic exposure has increased in cats, dogs and horses (AFP/Archives – LIONEL BONAVENTURE)

Unlike animals, antibiotic exposure has increased in cats, dogs and horses.

“After a 19.5% decrease between 2011 and 2016, the level of exposure of cats and dogs has increased in recent years”, to return to a level close to 2011, says ANSES.

A “better medicalization” can explain this increase, advances the director of the National Agency for Veterinary Medicine, Franck Fourès. That means pet owners are more willing to take them to the vet. It is “rather a good thing to have animals in the right treatment”, says Mr. Fourès.

As for horses, their exposure to antibiotics increased by 17.7% a year, possibly due to the “aging of the horse population”, says Franck Fourès.

A reason for vigilance for ANSES: “These are not animals that we eat” – or on the side for horses – “but to which we are exposed every day. (…) It is something which should not be neglected”, said Gilles Salvat.

Ecoantibio plans 1 (2012-2016) and 2 (2017-2022) were described as “successful” by the General Food Council (CGAAER) in a report published on Monday by the Ministry of Agriculture. There is an Ecoantibio 3 plan.

According to this document, “the reductions in the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine are so great that the margins of development still possible in the future are now reduced in this sector”.

In breeding, habits need to evolve to hope to further reduce the consumption of antibiotics “in the next ten years”, estimates Gilles Salvat.

The ANSES specialist mentions the selection of animals that are “a bit more robust, slower growing”, that are less strict with their companions or even have access to the outdoors.

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