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    Use of antimicrobials in animal agriculture is under increasing scrutiny, but the quantity of antimicrobials used on large US dairy farms has not been evaluated using data from large farms and different metrics. This study investigated total antimicrobial usage (AMU) in adult dairy cows and preweaned calves (PWC) and contrasted 2 metrics used for measurement of AMU. Wisconsin dairy farms were eligible if they had >250 lactating cows, maintained computerized animal health records, and were willing to allow researchers access to treatment records. Animal health data for a 1-yr period was retrospectively collected from computerized records, and a farm visit was performed to verify case definitions and recording accuracy. Both dose-based (animal daily doses; ADD) and mass-based (total mg of antimicrobials per kg of body weight; BW) metrics were calculated at the herd, cow, and PWC levels. Descriptive statistics for AMU were examined for both age groups. Mean AMU was compared among active ingredients and route of usage using ANOVA models that included farm as a random variable. At enrollment, farms (n = 40) contained approximately 52,639 cows (mean: 1,316 ± 169; 95% CI: 975, 1657) and 6,281 PWC (mean: 180 ± 33; 95% CI: 112, 247). When estimated using ADD, total herd AMU was 17.2 ADD per 1,000 animal-days (95% CI: 14.9, 19.5), with 83% of total herd-level AMU in adult cows. When estimated using the mass-based metric, total herd AMU was 13.6 mg of antimicrobial per kilogram of animal BW (95% CI: 10.3, 17.0), with 86% of total AMU used in adult cows. For cows, 78% of total ADD (15.8 ADD per 1,000 cow-d) was administered as intramammary (IMM) preparations. In contrast, when AMU was estimated using a mass-based metric, IMM preparations represented only 24% of total AMU (12.1 mg of antimicrobial/kg of cow BW). For cows, ceftiofur was the primary antimicrobial used and accounted for 53% of total ADD, with 80% attributed to IMM and 20% attributed to injectable treatments. When estimated using a mass-based metric, ampicillin was the predominant antimicrobial used in cows and accounted for 33% of total antimicrobial mass per kilogram of BW. When AMU was estimated for PWC using ADD, injectable antimicrobials represented 79% of total usage (28.3 ADD per 1,000 PWC-d). In contrast, when AMU was estimated for PWC using a mass-based metric, injectable products represented 42% of total AMU, even though more farms administered antimicrobials using this route. When AMU in PWC was summarized using ADD, penicillin represented 32% of AMU, and there were no significant differences in ADD among ampicillin, oxytetracycline or enrofloxacin. When a mass-based metric was used to estimate AMU in PWC, oral products (sulfadimethoxine and trimethoprim-sulfa) represented more than half of the total AMU given to this group. Overall, these results showed that choice of metric and inclusion of different age groups can substantially influence interpretation of AMU on dairy farms. The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. and Fass Inc. on behalf of the American Dairy Science Association®. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (


    J Leite de Campos, A Kates, A Steinberger, A Sethi, G Suen, J Shutske, N Safdar, T Goldberg, P L Ruegg. Quantification of antimicrobial usage in adult cows and preweaned calves on 40 large Wisconsin dairy farms using dose-based and mass-based metrics. Journal of dairy science. 2021 Apr;104(4):4727-4745

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    PMID: 33551167

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