The VetCAb study (Veterinary Consumption of Antibiotics) is a research project executed by the University of Veterinary Medicine (Hannover) and sponsored by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Berlin) which is carried out to describe the use of antibiotics in farm animals in Germany. The project started as a feasibility study in 2007 and was continued in 2011 as pilot project in a cross-sectional approach. Based on this cross-sectional data since 2013, the VetCAb-Sentinel project runs as a longitudinal study with ongoing participant recruitment and data collection. Its results are used in order to generate and test research hypotheses and to provide scientific input for changes in legal regulation.
Aim of the study is to evaluate how often livestock animals are treated with antibiotics during a defined time period, using the treatment frequency (TF) i.e. # treated animals x # treatment days / # animals per farm. Furthermore, it is investigated, if regions or farm sizes differ regarding antibiotic usage or which substances are used most frequently.

Data collection

Animal (sub)categories:


  • Pigs: sows, finishers, weaners and sucklers;
  • Poultry: broilers;
  • Cattle: dairy cows, beef cattle and fattening calves

Input: Participating veterinarians and farmers voluntarily provide information about consumption of antibiotics on farm level by official application and delivery forms, which are transferred into a database. For the latter, the number of treated animals, number of treatment days, name and amount of the antimicrobial product used, the route of application and the indication are collected. In 2021 more than 300,000 records for pigs, cattle and poultry of the years 2011 to 2020 were included into the database.



As in HIT and QS, a count-based indicator is calculated, called the ‘treatment frequency’, which has a similar outcome as a treatment incidence based on UDD. This does not require the use of animal weights at treatment.


Seen the aim of the work, benchmarking is not applied.


Farmers and vets receive results of own animals as a confidential report as well as overall results. Results of the project as well as methodological issues are reported via scientific publication. For details click here:

More information



  • van Rennings L, von Münchhausen C, Ottilie H, Hartmann M, Merle R, Honscha W, Käsbohrer A, Kreienbrock L. 2015. Cross-sectional study on antibiotic usage in pigs in Germany. PLoS One, 10: e0119114.
  • Schaekel F, May T, Seiler J, Hartmann M, Kreienbrock L. 2017. Antibiotic drug usage in pigs in Germany-Are the class profiles changing? PLoS One, 12: e0182661.
  • Hemme M, Käsbohrer A, von Münchhausen C, Hartmann M, Merle M, Kreienbrock L. 2017. Unterschiede in der Berechnung des betriebsbezogenen Antibiotika-Einsatzes in Monitoringsystemen in Deutschland - eine Übersicht. Berliner und Münchener Tierärztliche Wochenschrift, 130 (3-4): 93-101.
  • Kasabova S, Hartmann M, Werner N, Käsbohrer A, Kreienbrock L. 2019. Used Daily Dose vs. Defined Daily Dose—Contrasting Two Different Methods to Measure Antibiotic Consumption at the Farm Level. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 6 (116). Doi: 10.3389/fvets.2019.00116.
  • Hommerich K, Ruddat I, Hartmann M, Werner N, Käsbohrer A, Kreienbrock L. 2019. Monitoring Antibiotic Usage in German Dairy and Beef Cattle Farms—A Longitudinal Analysis, Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 6 (244).
    Doi: 10.3389/fvets.2019.00244.