Using antibiotics responsibly: Stewardship takes collaborative approach


Preserving the efficacy of antibiotics so they help treat life-threatening bacterial infections in cattle takes the collaboration of you and many other experts in a One Health approach.

Producers are already working closely with a veterinarian to find the right treatment when cattle get sick, and value their expertise in the the responsible use of antibiotics.

A One Health approach brings together leaders in human and veterinary medicine, human health professions, the food industry and public health. Leaders from across these sectors work together to create a common understanding and best set of solutions that help advance the responsible use of antibiotics, protect animal health and well-being and safeguard human health.

“We’re all working together to make sure we’re preserving antibiotics so that the response we achieve today is the same response we’ll get in 10 years in both human and animal medicine,” said Doug Hilbig, DVM, Beef Technical Services at Zoetis. “The responsibility of keeping these important resources available and effective doesn’t, and can’t, just fall to those directly caring for cattle. When animals get sick, we all have an obligation to help them regain health.”

Several organizations share positive messages about proper use of antibiotics to the nonagricultural community. For example, the Food and Drug Administration communicates about their rigorous approval process for animal health products, enforcing proper use according to labeling and imposing penalties for improper use.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture shares a consumer-facing message about how they ensure safe food with routine surveillance of meat and milk.

“We’re bringing insights from our team of veterinarians who work daily with producers and veterinarians,” Dr. Hilbig said. “We spend a lot of time and effort training on the appropriate use of antibiotics because proper use according to the product label is key to helping avoid violative residues and controlling the spread of antibiotic resistance. We’re also helping monitor antimicrobial resistance so the industry can be confident the products they are using are effective.”

So, what does a One Health collaborative approach mean for your role as beef cattle producers and veterinarians in the new year and beyond? It means that you just need to keep doing everything you’re already doing right and, as experts in the industry, sharing about your efforts.

As producers, you’re already working closely with a veterinarian to find the right treatment when cattle get sick. Read more about the veterinarian’s valuable role in the responsible use of antibiotics.

As veterinarians, you’re helping ensure that the right antibiotic is prescribed when medically needed and administered at the right time. (Read more on the relationship between treatment success and responsible use of antibiotics.

“Regardless of roles, we’re all doing everything possible so you can focus on continuing to do what you do best every day — caring for cattle and keeping them healthy,” Dr. Hilbig said. “We all have the same goals. We want to keep people healthy. We all want our families to have the healthiest food.” 

Read more about the veterinarian's valuable role in the responsible use of antibiotics at or about the relationship between treatment success and responsible use of antibiotics at