Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

Study spotlights factors affecting antibiotic resistance

Effective disease management, responsible antimicrobial medicine use, and socioeconomic factors influence antibiotic resistance in European livestock.

Critical factors affecting the use of antimicrobial medicines and the development of drug resistance in livestock have been highlighted in a study.

Appropriate use of medicines, responsible disease management and economic and social factors all influence resistance to antibiotics, scientists found.

Their study, which focuses on antibiotics, underscores the urgent need to address antimicrobial resistance, which continues to pose a significant challenge and impact human, animal, and environmental health.

The review aimed to address a research gap in identifying common predictors of antibiotic resistance across farming systems in Europe.

Its findings could help guide policies aimed at optimising health and welfare through improved biosecurity measures such as animal quarantine, and clear guidelines for the effective use of antibiotics.

Influencing factors

A research team from the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems examined more than 200 previous studies to identify key predictors of antibiotic use and resistance.

Their findings emphasised the importance of disease management and biosecurity practices in controlling antibiotic resistance. Implementing effective disease management can help minimise the need for antibiotic use, reducing the likelihood of developing resistance and the spread of bacteria that have developed resistance, the team explains.

Veterinarians were identified as a key source of up-to-date advice on best practices on farms. Farmers and veterinarians working in partnership toward responsible antimicrobial use can lead to more prudent practices and ultimately decrease the prevalence of antibiotic resistance, the researchers noted.

Social factors such as consumer demands for certain livestock products, such as organic or free-range products, can influence the use of medicine in production systems, while economic situations can impact the affordability of alternative management practices, the review revealed.

Guiding research and policy

While herd vaccination is an important part of preventative healthcare in livestock, its specific effects in terms of antibiotic use and resistance in farms remains unclear and warrants further investigation, the team found.

The review also highlighted the need for further research into antibiotic use and resistance in sheep, beef cattle, laying hens, turkeys and especially salmon.

With the results of this study, scientists, policymakers, veterinarians, and farmers can make more informed decisions to guide research priorities and develop targeted strategies in combating antibiotic resistance and safeguarding both animal and human health, researchers say.

This research derives from a report originally commissioned by the UK Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and was published in Frontiers in Antibiotics.


It is crucial for researchers and policymakers to understand the nuances of antimicrobial use and resistance in livestock in order to maintain animal welfare and improve food security. Resistance is a huge issue affecting humans and other animals, and this review reflects its complex nature as well as highlighting key gaps in our knowledge.

Carys Redman-White, PhD student

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Carys Redman-White research profile