UK farming has been a world leader in reducing antibiotic use – yet we have struggled to prove this progress in our ruminant sectors. Now we have the Medicine Hub for beef, sheep and dairy.
While we know from our own records at Synergy that our beef cattle and sheep clients are generally low users of antibiotics, the country as a whole does not have access to the kind of medicine review we carry out routinely as a vet practice. It may seem hard to believe, but there is no national collation of antibiotic use across the beef or sheep sectors. We really need this to justify our claim of responsible use to the wider industry, consumers and other countries – including those in the EU which we may wish to export to in the future. Equally, it would be really interesting for us to benchmark our figures against a national dataset as part of the drive to improve productivity and reduce losses.
This is about to change with the new Medicine Hub. Developed by AHDB in partnership with industry, this facility makes it possible to capture and collate antibiotic data in a variety of ways, from every single cattle and sheep farm.
In the beef and sheep sectors, farm vets are going to be pivotal to this effort. We could become the main mechanism for transferring prescription datasets to the Hub, if you give us permission to do so. It is also possible to use the Medicine Hub as an electronic medicine book if you prefer.
Over the coming months, there is going to be a big push to raise awareness of the Medicine Hub across the whole industry, in preparation for significant efforts to migrate data onto it. We are really hoping 2022 will be the year Synergy clients register for the Medicine Hub and allow us to upload data, anonymously, on your behalf.
What is the Medicine Hub?
Put simply, the Medicine Hub is a database that can store and collate antibiotic usage data for cattle and sheep. The platform facilitates users and any authorised third parties (such as a vet or processor) to view, enter and submit data. Importantly, there is no charge associated with the Medicine Hub for contributors.
The Medicine Hub began accepting contributions in its pilot phase last year and is now available for all farmers to register and upload medicine use. You can do this yourselves or give third party permission to Synergy to enter your sales data on your behalf.
Why is the Medicine Hub important?
Within the UK Government’s plans to tackle antimicrobial resistance, is a commitment to work with vets and farmers, to continue reducing inappropriate and unnecessary antibiotic use. RUMA’s Targets Task Force has also identified that the ruminant sectors lag behind more integrated sectors in centralised data capture – meaning they cannot report national data or progress, and risk falling behind incoming EU legislation to report national usage data in cattle and sheep. Centralised data capture will help the industry to protect its reputation and contribute to the promotion of its produce. We know that we are the 5th lowest user of antibiotics in food-producing animals in Europe; now we need to prove the ruminant sector’s figure.
The benefit for industry is this will support trade both in the UK and overseas – from a veterinary perspective it will help protect our ability to access vital medicines. Demonstrating our commitment to the appropriate use of veterinary medicines with an effective measurement system is in all our interests.
How is the Medicine Hub used and who can use it?
The Medicine Hub is available through www.medicinehub.org.uk or the AHDB website. Any cattle or sheep holding can register, enter data and see reports. As your veterinary practice, if you have given us permission to view, enter or submit data within the Medicine Hub on your behalf, we will receive an email notifying us of what level of permission we have been granted.
About the data
Producers have control of their own farm data and who has permission to see it. At a national level all data entered into the hub will contribute to reporting of antibiotic use across the relevant sectors on an anonymised, aggregated basis. It is important to understand that data will not contain personal details regarding the user and is intended to be used solely to assist stakeholder organisations such as the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) in their reporting obligations.
What is recorded and how accurate will the data be?
Farm level antibiotic use is calculated using metrics recommended by The Cattle Health & Welfare Group and the Sheep Antibiotic Guardian Group. These metrics are based on the total amount of antibiotic active ingredient used, related to the estimated weight of livestock on the farm. For beef farms the population data can be quite complex to enter, so it is best to set up a CTS link which will do this automatically.
What should I do now?
Talk to us about the Medicine Hub if you need more information.
Register an account and set up separate enterprises for beef, sheep or dairy on www.medicinehub.org.uk
Make sure you specify which enterprise you are ordering medicines for when you contact dispensary.
If you own cattle, set up a CTS link which will provide accurate animal population data (this is important).
Set 3rd party permissions for Synergy Farm Health, to allow us to access and enter data on your behalf.
We will sort the rest!
Find Out More
You can find out more on the AHDB website www.ahdb.org.uk/medicine-hub
If you have any questions, please contact us or the Medicine Hub directly via email: email@example.com.
Rachel Hayton – Synergy Farm Health, Veterinary Surgeon BSc (Vet Sci) BVM&S Cert CHP MRCVS
Advanced Practitioner in Cattle Health and Production