A register-based study of the antimicrobial usage in Danish veal calves and young bulls

Mette Ely Fertner, Nils Toft, Henrik Læssøe Martin, Anette Boklund

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    High antimicrobial usage and multidrug resistance have been reported in veal calves in Europe. This may be attributed to a high risk of disease as veal calves are often purchased from numerous dairy herds, exposed to stress related to the transport and commingling of new animals, and fed a new ration. In this study, we used national register data to characterize the use of antimicrobials registered for large Danish veal calf and young bull producing herds in 2014. A total of 325 herds with veal calf and potentially young bull production were identified from the Danish Cattle database. According to the national Danish database on drugs for veterinary use (VetStat), a total of 537,399 Animal Daily Doses (ADD200) were registered for these 325 herds during 2014. The amount of antimicrobials registered in 2014 varied throughout the year, with the highest amounts registered in autumn and winter. Antimicrobials were registered for respiratory disorders (79%), joints/limbs/CNS disorders (17%), gastrointestinal disorders (3.7%) and other disorders (0.3%). Of the registered antimicrobials, 15% were for oral and 85% for parenteral administration. Long-acting formulations with a therapeutic effect of more than 48h covered 58% of the drugs for parenteral use. Standardized at the herd-level, as ADD200/100 calves/day, antimicrobial use distributed as median [CI95%] for starter herds (n=22): 2.14 [0.19;7.58], finisher herds (n=24): 0.48 [0.00;1.48], full-line herds (n=183): 0.78 [0.05;2.20] and herds with an inconsistent pattern of movements (n=96): 0.62 [0.00;2.24]. Full-line herds are herds, which purchase calves directly from a dairy herd and raise them to slaughter. Furthermore, we performed a risk factor analysis on the 183 herds with a full-line production. Here, we investigated, whether the number of suppliers, the number of calves purchased, the frequency of purchase, the average age at introduction, the average time in the herd and vaccination influenced the amount of antimicrobials used in the herds. The final multivariable regression analysis revealed that the number of calves introduced was positively associated with the antimicrobial use in the herd.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
    Pages (from-to)41-47
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Antibacterials
    • Antibiotics
    • Herd size
    • Multivariable regression
    • Supplier
    • Veal calves


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