Antibiotics training days launched for Northern Ireland dairy farmers

A new training course to explain more about Anti-microbial Resistance (AMR) and how to minimise its risks on dairy farms is now open for Northern Ireland farmers.

Anti-microbial Resistance is becoming a commonly heard phrase both at home and on the farm but many are unsure of what exactly it means and how it can affect their farm businesses.

What is Anti-microbial Resistance?

In recent years, scientists have warned that the microbes which cause diseases are developing resistance to antimicrobial drugs such as antibiotics – a phenomenon described as ‘Anti-microbial Resistance’.

Resistant microbes can be found in people, animals, food and in water, soil and air.

Over time, resistance can lead to drugs becoming ineffective in treating infections and diseases. This is a serious threat to human and animal health worldwide as it risks the future of many key treatments for what are currently easily treated diseases.

The new training course titled ‘Responsible Use of Antibiotics in the Dairy Herd’ will be delivered by Animal Health & Welfare Northern Ireland (AHWNI), as part of the Farm Family Key Skills (FFKS) programme.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union is supportive of the initiative and is encouraging farmers to attend the course.

UFU president, Ivor Ferguson said: “As a farming industry, we are committed to playing our part in reducing antibiotic usage and resistance. Significant progress has already been made in the pig and poultry sectors, which have seen their usage fall by over 50% and 80% respectively.

Historically, those working with cattle are smaller users of antibiotics but there are improvements that can be made. These courses will help to raise awareness and enable producers to identify areas where they can make changes within their own businesses.

The course is fully supported by Dairy UK and dairy companies to complement the MilkSure training programme to ensure that NI milk is produced to the highest standards.

Sam Strain, AWHNI, part of the team of vets delivering the course, says the training will equip farmers on how to reduce and optimise their use of antibiotics. It will give key tips on the best use of antibiotics and how to avoid the risk of residues.

“The training will be delivered across Northern Ireland and each participant will receive a training and attendance certificate that fulfils current assurance scheme recommendations.

The training is free to farmers, farm family members and employees.

Farm Family Key Skills programme (FFKS) is an initiative within the Farm Business Improvement Scheme (FBIS). FBIS is a key element of the NI Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 and is part funded by the EU

Course dates

The workshops will each last around two and a half hours and will be led by qualified veterinary surgeons at venues across Northern Ireland.

  • Thursday, January 10, Agri-Food Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Hillsborough at 11:00am;
  • Tuesday, January 15, Loughry Campus, Cookstown at 1:30pm;
  • Thursday, January 17, Livestock Mart, Markethill at 11:00am;
  • Thursday, January 24, Enniskillen Campus, Enniskillen at 1:30pm;
  • Tuesday, January 29, Mourne Country Hotel, Newry at 11:00am;
  • Thursday, January 31, Greenmount Campus, Antrim at 1:30pm;
  • Thursday, February 7, Roe Park Resort, Limavady at 11:00am;
  • Tuesday, February 12, Civic Centre, Craigavon at 11:00am;
  • Thursday, February 14, Loughry Campus, Cookstown at 11:00am;
  • Thursday, February 21, Valley Hotel, Fivemiletown at 1:30pm;
  • Tuesday, February 26, Mellon Country Inn, Strabane at 11:00am;
  • Thursday, February 28, Tullyglass House Hotel, Ballymena at 1:30pm.