Source: DANMAP 2017

Source: DANMAP 2017

The use of antibiotics in livestock

22 years of targeted initiatives from in particular pig breeders has yielded good results. The total use of antibiotics in 2017 was 49 per cent lower than in 1994. The reason for this success is a combination of legislation, meticulous control and wide support from pig breeders.

Since the mid-1990s, Denmark has made a huge effort to regulate the use of antibiotics in pig breeding and thereby prevent the spreading of resistant bacteria. Many of these measures have been voluntary decisions made by the industry that have been feasible thanks to the Danish principle of co-operation – that each pig breeder knows its responsibility for the rest of the value chain – from farm to table.

In 1994, 205 tons of antibiotics were used in Danish livestock; in 2017, only 101 tons were used. This is a decrease of 49 per cent compared to 1994. This means that the use of antibiotics is on the right track. Approx. 75 per cent of the total use of antibiotics for animal breeding is used for treatment of pigs. The decrease of the total use of antibiotics is therefore to a high extent owing to the pig breeders. The fact is that this figure is also to be seen in the light of more pigs being bred. In the period from 1994 to 2017, the breeding of pigs has increased from 20.6 million pigs to 31.4 million pigs. That the use of antibiotics has decrease over the same period is therefore even more impressive.

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The European Medicines Agency (EMA) calculates the use of antibiotics per kg animal yielding marketable produce in a number of European countries.


Graphics: European Medicines Agency, 2018

If you want further information or wish to read more about the use of antibiotics, please contact Senior Consultant at the Danish Agriculture & Food Council, Jan Dahl, +45 33 394 406,