Joint industry letter sent to Veterinary Times and the Veterinary Record

2nd March 2018

NSA is pleased to be a cosignatory on a letter sent to the Veterinary Record and Veterinary Times.

Dear Sirs

With the advent of the 2018 lambing season, we would like to remind all vets who have sheep farmer clients that, in any flock, it is not appropriate for all neonatal lambs to be treated with antibiotics from the start of the new lambing season.  In individual flocks and with close veterinary supervision, it may be appropriate to use targeted control measures that include antibiotic treatment.

For further information, we would like to draw to your attention the Sheep Veterinary Society Responsible Use of Antimicrobials Good Practice Guidelines.These guidelines address antibiotic use by the sheep sector in areas of concern, either due to the high volumes used, such as in the control of lameness or abortion, or due to the large numbers of animals treated, such as in the control of neonatal lamb disease. The guidelines aim to provide a summary of current information on the control of these diseases whilst encouraging the replacement, refinement or reduction in the use of antibiotics on sheep farms. Further resources and case studies can be found at

With 10.5 million doses of lamb oral antibiotic sold in 2015, our principle concern is the sheer numbers of neonatal lambs that have historically been given a prophylactic dose of antibiotic.  However, we are further concerned about anecdotal reports that in some areas there may be a significant use of either tablets or other antibiotics that are not licensed for use in sheep.  Whereas veterinary surgeons are in the privileged position of being allowed to prescribe medicines under the veterinary cascade, the use of unauthorised products must be fully justified and have clearly auditable clinical evidence.  We would particularly ask colleagues to refrain from using the high priority critically important antibiotics in sheep.

  • Jennifer Duncan, Davinia Hinde, Tim Bebbington (Sheep Veterinary Society Antibiotic group)
  • Iain Richards (Sheep Veterinary Society President)
  • Charles Sercombe (Chair Sheep Health and Welfare Group, National Farmers Union, RUMA Targets Task Force)
  • Phil Stocker (CEO National Sheep Association)
  • Fiona Lovatt (RUMA Targets Task Force, Chair Sheep Industry Antibiotic Group)