Antibiotics in Livestock : 10 Approaches You need to Know | UPSC

Antibiotics in Livestock : 10 Approaches You need to Know | UPSC


The dictum for using antibiotics in livestock

      WHY IN NEWS:

It is AMR Week 2020 ! As we observe World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2020, all of us should strive towards responsible use of antibiotics in all sectors according to the slogan given by World Health Organization: Antimicrobials: Handle with care.



For PRELIMS note down the diseases and the treatment .

For MAINS go through the approach carefully . Such points can help you fetch better marks in mains . Let us dive in !


Using natural additives in animal feed, educating farmers, timely vaccination, ethno-veterinary practices and strict implementation of rules can reduce antibiotic use in farm animals


The use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine is fundamentally to treat the microbial infections and diseases in livestock, poultry, pet animals and game animals. 

Antibiotics in Livestock : 10 Approaches You need to Know | UPSC

Antibiotics in Livestock : 10 Approaches You need to Know | UPSC

  • The development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in microorganisms of veterinary importance not only has a significant impact on animal health.
  • It also has an public health due to the increased consumption of foods of animal origin in developing countries.

The consumption of animal protein is expected increase further in the coming years.

  • Therefore, mitigation strategies for containment of AMR in the animal sector assumes paramount importance.
  • Sub therapeutic concentrations of antibiotics as growth promoters (AGP) were widely used in animal feed.
  • Especially in countries where beef cattle and swine farms were maintained on commercially intensive farming lines.
  • This was done without realising the potential impact of AGP use in feed on the development of AMR in microorganisms.



  • In India, as cattle and buffaloes are maintained primarily for dairying and intensive swine farming is also not common, the issue of AGP in feeds didn’t arise much.
  • Sheep and goats are maintained by shepherds with grazing practices in the open fields.
  • However, research findings about the detection of genes conferring AMR in certain bacterial species isolated from chickens raised concern about food safety.
  • Like other sectors, attention should be paid to misuse of antibiotics in the veterinary sector.

Bacterial infection of udders (mastitis) is very common in dairy animals where the misuse of antibiotics is mostly observed.

  • A qualified veterinarian always prescribes specific antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection.

The presence of antibiotic residues in milk and meat is a serious issue, one that must be brought to public attention.


  • The possibility of development of AMR in microbes due to antibiotic residues in animal foods is being widely investigated and debated.

The FSSAI has fixed ‘tolerance limits’ for veterinary drug residues, including antibiotics, in animal foods like milk, meat, eggs, etc.

  • Therefore, emphasis should be laid on the responsible use of antibiotics.

Antibiotics in Livestock : 10 Approaches You need to Know | UPSC

  • Intensive farming practices in poultry helped India to not only increase the production of eggs and meat but also provided much needed animal protein.
  • Certain poultry farmers who use such feed are even not aware about what they are using.

Therefore, educating farmers about the consequences of using feeds laced with antibiotic additives and its impact on public health is the need the hour.


  • Livestock and poultry farmers must be trained in economical ‘biosecurity practices to be implemented in their farms.
  • These will minimise the incidence of common microbial infections.
  • This will also automatically reduce the need of antibiotics in the animal sector.

The use of prebiotics, probiotics, organic acids, enzymes, essential oils and phytogenic feed additives (PFA) rich with flavonoids in livestock and poultry feed has to be extensively encouraged with incentives. 

  • Many of these natural additives have evidence-based antimicrobial and immunomodulatory properties.
  • It is highly rare for microbes to develop resistance against natural products.
  • Also the immune system of animals is boosted and keeps them immunocompetent.
  • Time-bound vaccination practices are crucial to prevent infectious diseases in livestock and poultry.

Ethno-veterinary practices with credible evidence too should be encouraged.

  • A road map for reducing the need of antibiotics for animal use should be prepared by involving all stakeholders.
  • Antibiotics are indispensable tools to fight microbial infections and diseases in human and veterinary medicine.
  • It is inevitable for veterinarians to prescribe antibiotics to protect animal health and to alleviate animals’ pain and suffering.
  • Total avoidance of antibiotics including certain critically important ones for therapeutic use in animal sector is practically not plausible.
  • That is because many small and marginal farmers depend on livestock and poultry farming for their livelihoods.


  • AMR can’t be addressed just by focussing on antibiotics use / misuse in food animals.
  • Certain research reports indicate no perceptible change in the AMR pattern in bacteria even if certain classes of antibiotics were withdrawn for veterinary use.

AMR is a complex phenomenon and needs a multi-pronged strategy to address it.

  • Untreated / improperly treated effluents from certain pharma industries and discharges of hospital wastes directly into drainage causes antibiotics residues to enter the environment.
  • There is every chance that these effluents and discharges contaminate drinking water resources like tanks and ponds.

Use of biocides, antiseptics and disinfectants also have an impact on AMR in microbes, due to the cross resistance phenomenon.


  • The ‘One Health’ approach is the best way to address AMR since resistance against antimicrobials is operated among human, animal and environmental sectors.
  • Lack of authentic information on AMR and antimicrobial use (AMU) in the veterinary sector is a major limitation.
  • Extrapolation of data on AMR from different splinter research groups may not present a correct picture on the resistance pattern of microbes to antibiotics.

To address this issue, the ICMR has initiated a  national programme called the Indian Network for Fisheries and Animals Antimicrobial Resistance in coordination with the FAO.

  • This will provide pan-India AMR data in the coming years.


  • Creating awareness among the public about the AMR threat on the lines of the novel coronavirus disease awareness campaign will be highly useful.

India is being designated as the ‘epicentre’ of the global drug resistance crisis.

  • This is due to a combination of factors that is being described as a ‘perfect storm’ and has led to the spread of superbugs.
  • One major concern is that the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed has led to their continuous exposure to gut microbiota.
  • In animal husbandry, poultry is the most rapidly growing sector.
  • Income from rearing poultry is set to triple by 2020.
  • To fulfil the demand for eggs and meat from poultry, farmers are being forced to use antibiotics as growth promoters.
  • This is because a majority of deadly diseases affecting poultry are either of viral or bacterial origin.

These include viral diseases like Marek disease, infectious bronchitis, gumboro disease, infectious laryngotracheitis, litchi diseases and pox

  • They also include bacterial diseases like salmonellosis, collibacillosis, campylobacteriosis, Mycoplasmosis, etc.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 


  • Good quality vaccines are available against almost all viral diseases.
  • The vice versa is true about bacterial diseases.

Good quality, cost-effective and safe vaccines are required for the prevention of such diseases.

  • This leads to the use of antibiotics to prevent these bacterial infections to avoid any mortality or morbidity.
  • So how do we address the misuse of antibiotics in tackling bacterial disease among livestock in India.


  1. Creating awareness among farmers and end users about drug residue and its after-effects
  2. Restriction on the unregulated sale of antibiotics for use in animals
  3. A complete ban on the use of those antibiotics that are classified by the World Health Organization as being “critically important to human medicines”
  4. Development of disease diagnosis facilities accessible to farmers at nominal costs, for recommendation of drugs of choice
  5. Trainings and awareness campaigns to educate farmers on good managemental practices.
  6. Availability and guidelines for the proper disposal of waste.
  7. Strict regulations need to be imposed to avoid drainage of untreated waste into rivers and water bodies
  8. Legislation for the implementation of good sanitary practices in and around animal and poultry farms and other related units
  9. Continuous monitoring of drug resistance bacterial pathogens like coli, Staphylococcus spp, Pseudomonas spp and Klebsiella spp in particular.
  10. A national level antimicrobial monitoring plan in collaboration with all stakeholders.
     SOURCES:  DownToEarth  | Antibiotics in Livestock : 10 Approaches You need to Know | UPSC



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