Leading position in EU

Lowest use of antibiotics in EU

The Nordic countries are perceived as a “paradise” with the absolute lowest use of antibiotics in the European Union and in the world. The Nordic tradition in breeding for healthy cows is reflected in the latest report from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), from 2019: “Sales of veterinary antimicrobial agents in 31 European countries in 2017”. 
EMA is a decentralised body of the European Union with primary responsibility for the protection and promotion of public and animal health. According to EMA, Sweden, Finland and Denmark are the EU countries with the lowest use of antibiotics in livestock, far ahead of other countries.

Sales in mg/PCU (Population correction unit) of veterinary antimicrobial agents marketed for
food-producing animals by country for 2017

The amount of veterinary antimicrobial agents sold in the different countries is a factor linked to the animal demographics in each country. PCU is the term used to estimate animal populations in individual countries. In other words, it is an animal biomass estimate based on the number of animals where 1 PCU equals 1 kg of live animal weight. 

All figures are stated in milligram (mg) of veterinary antimicrobials purchased for every kilogram (kg) of livestock biomass. This enables comparisons of the use of antibiotics in different countries. The graph below includes the EU member states that have > 215,000 tonnes PCU for Cattle. Sales in mg/PCU are weighted according to the proportion of cattle to all food-producing animals in each country.

High Milk Yield 

On the other hand, Scandinavian farmers not only have the lowest use of antibiotics but also the highest milk yield per cow in 305 days, in kg all recorded cows and all breeds together for 2018, according to the International Committee for Animal Recording (ICAR) and NAV data for Sweden, Denmark and Finland. 
Antibiotics: Adapted from the report by the European Medicines Agency, European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption, 2019. ‘Sales of veterinary antimicrobial agents in 31 European countries in 2017’ (EMA/294674/2019).
Production: International Committee for Animal Recording (ICAR) 2018 and NAV data 2018 for Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Sweden has an average of kg milk of 10,430 kg, Denmark 10,349 kg and Finland 9,953 kg.

The Nordic countries have very strict veterinary regulations regarding the use of antibiotics. With this limited access to antibiotics, the farmers have been compelled to find other way of keeping their cows healthy. Good management and breeding for better health ensure success.