Share the article

Measure  –  Consumption

Food animals

Here you find guidance, methods and tools to generate data on antibiotic consumption in food animals.

The OIE has initiated a global data collection in animals and an increasing number of countries are able to report, though quality and completeness may differ. They have developed standards and guidelines to monitor the use of antibiotics in the animal sector. These are presented in the Terrestrial and the Aquatic Animal Health Codes.

The quantitative reports from OIE show that there are great differences between different regions. This can only partly be explained by different animal species and different production systems and may reflect differences in data recording, government policies and their implementation.

Measure antibiotic consumption in animals

Antibiotic use data in the food animal sector can be obtained from farm animal records, veterinary prescriptions/records, pharmacies, distributors or the pharmaceutical industry. If such sophisticated systems are not yet available, data can also be gathered through point prevalence or longitudinal studies on consumption at the farm level, which has been described by both AGISAR and European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC). In most countries, information on antibiotic consumption is obtained from sales data. In the European Union, ESVAC collects veterinary antibiotic sales data from member countries using a harmonized protocol, which is available at the ESVAC website. Similar programs and methods are often lacking in many low- and middle-income countries but the methods used by ESVAC can be applied globally.

Harmonization of data

In order to ensure uniformity of comparison, the sales data need to be linked to the animal demographics in each country. A population correction unit (PCU) has been developed for this purpose. The PCU is used as a proxy for the total live weight of food producing animals within the country (number of livestock × estimated weight at treatment). In the EU, it only includes the main production animals. OIE has developed a more global PCU, where animal species of relevance more globally are included.

However, the unit does not take into account that the antibiotic use differs between different animal species, and that different antibiotics have differences in potency and hence differences in dosage. There is therefore ongoing work to establish systems for the collection of standardized data, which includes data on antibiotic consumption per animal species, and sometimes weight group and production type.

Defined daily doses

ESVAC has proposed defined daily doses for animals (DDDvet) and defined course dose for animals (DCDvet) for antimicrobial veterinary medicinal products. By this, standardized fixed units of measurement for the reporting of data on consumption by species that take into account differences in dosing is provided.

  • The DDDvet is the assumed average dose per kg animal per species per day;
  • The DCDvet is the assumed average dose per kg animal per species per treatment course.

The units were developed on basis of average dose and duration of treatment in a number of EU countries. For national purposes, units based on national conditions may also be applicable. For an example of how to calculate number of DDDs from consumption data, see Humans. Standaridized units such as DDDvet however are difficult to interpret in settings where antibiotics are used for other reasons than treatment.

At farm level

At farm level, the treatment frequency and the number of treatment days, and the antibiotic compound used are relevant measures of antibiotic use in farm health programs and quality assurances schemes. In its simplest form, the number of treated animals per day during an observation period (preferably a production cycle) can be recorded. For more refined studies, a treatment unit (UDD, Used Daily Doses) has been defined as the administration of one active ingredient at its daily dose to one animal on one day. For the observed population (the farm) the number UDD can be calculated as the number of UDD under the observed period. To calculate the treatment frequency, the number of UDD is divided by the population size. As the population size in many farms vary during the year due to the production cycle, it is crucial to access information on the population size for each specific farm.

Resources below have been divided into the following tables:

  • Tools and guidelines
  • Databases and reports

One Health resources are found in Consumption.

Selected Resources

Tools and guidelines

Resources Description
OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code Guidelines. Chapter 6.9: Monitoring of the quantities and usage patterns of antimicrobial agents used in food-producing animals.
OIE Antimicrobial Resistance Information portal with information and resources from OIE. Contains the Annual report on Antimicrobial Agents Intended for Use in Animals (PDF, 3.5 MB), a template for reporting national data to the global database (Excel spreadsheet, 0.3 MB) and an annex to assist in calculations (PDF, 0.2 MB).
AACTING Guidelines Guidelines intended to assist establishment or revision of farm-level AMU monitoring systems. Particularly relevant for use in countries with established medicines registrations and regulations. An overview of existing monitoring systems in countries can be found here.
European surveillance of veterinary antimicrobial consumption (ESVAC) project Information portal with tools and database. ESVAC is a project within the European Medical Agency which collects information on antibiotic use in animals in the European Union (EU). A report on national sales data of antibiotics is published annually. ESVAC also provides an interactive database, sales data collection form and protocol.
Antimicrobial use calculator Tool to assist in calculating antibiotic use on dairy farms. The tool is a macro-enabled spreadsheet where heard and antibiotic use data are entered and gives consumption data as both mg/PCU and DDD. A benchmarking tool is also available at the same site.
Approaches for quantifying antimicrobial consumption per animal species based on national sales data: a Swiss example, 2006 to 2013 Journal article that has tested and describes three methods to estimate antimicrobial consumption on species level from veterinary sales data.

Databases and reports

Resource Description
Global trends in antimicrobial use in food animals Journal article. Effort to map global antibiotic consumption in livestock (228 countries). Projects that antimicrobial consumption in food animals will rise by 67% by 2030.
Review of Evidence on Antimicrobial Resistance and Animal Agriculture in Developing Countries Review that highlights evidence and knowledge gaps of antimicrobial resistance and use in agri- and aquaculture and identifies a lack of most evidence in low- and middle-income countries. See e.g. Annex 1 & 2 for literature review and reports on antibiotic use.

More from "Consumption"

AACTING. AACTING | Guidelines [Internet]. [cited 2018 Aug 13]. Available from:
World Organization for Animal Health - OIE. Annex to the Guidance for Completing the OIE template for the collection of data on Antimicrobial Agents intended for use in Animals [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2020 Apr 23]. Available from:
World Organisation for Animal Health - OIE. OIE template [Internet]. [cited 2020 Apr 23]. Available from:
World Organisation for Animal Health - OIE. The Fourth OIE Annual Report on Antimicrobial Agents Intended for Use in Animals [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2020 Apr 23]. Available from:
AACTING. AACTING | Monitoring systems [Internet]. [cited 2020 Apr 21]. Available from:
University of Nottingham. Antimicrobial use calculator [Internet]. [cited 2019 May 15]. Available from:
Antimicrobials: OIE - World Organisation for Animal Health [Internet]. [cited 2019 May 10]. Available from:
European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption - ESVAC. European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption [Internet]. [cited 2015 Apr 18]. Available from:
European Medicines Agency - EMA. Standardised units of measurement for veterinary antimicrobials [Internet]. Units of Measurements. 2014 [cited 2016 May 19]. Available from:
Grace D. Review of evidence on antimicrobial resistance and animal agriculture in developing countries [Internet]. Evidence on Demand; 2015 Jun [cited 2015 Nov 26]. Available from:
Carmo LP, Schüpbach-Regula G, Müntener C, Chevance A, Moulin G, Magouras I. Approaches for quantifying antimicrobial consumption per animal species based on national sales data: a Swiss example, 2006 to 2013. Eurosurveillance [Internet]. 2017 Feb 9 [cited 2017 Apr 25];22(6). Available from:
World Organisation for Animal Health - OIE, editor. Terrestrial Animal Health Code [Internet]. 24th ed. Paris: OIE; 2015. 411 p. (Terrestrial animal health code; vol. 1). Available from:
Maron DF, Smith TJS, Nachman KE. Restrictions on antimicrobial use in food animal production: an international regulatory and economic survey. Global Health [Internet]. 2013;9:48. Available from:
van Rennings L, von Münchhausen C, Ottilie H, Hartmann M, Merle R, Honscha W, et al. Cross-sectional study on antibiotic usage in pigs in Germany. PLoS ONE [Internet]. 2015;10(3):e0119114. Available from:
European Medicines Agency - EMA. Principles on assignment of defined daily dose for animals (DDDvet) and defined course dose for animals (DCDvet) [Internet]. Veterinary Medicine Division; 2015 [cited 2016 May 19]. Available from:
Bondt N, Jensen VF, Puister-Jansen LF, van Geijlswijk IM. Comparing antimicrobial exposure based on sales data. Prev Vet Med [Internet]. 2013 Jan 1;108(1):10–20. Available from:
World Organisation for animal health - OIE. OIE Activities [Internet]. Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). [cited 2016 May 19]. Available from:
World Health Organization - WHO. Integrated surveillance of antimicrobial resistance: Guidance from a WHO Advisory Group [Internet]. 2013 [cited 2016 Feb 25]. Available from:
Van Boeckel TP, Brower C, Gilbert M, Grenfell BT, Levin SA, Robinson TP, et al. Global trends in antimicrobial use in food animals. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA [Internet]. 2015 Mar 19; Available from: