The Prince of Wales has revealed he uses homeopathic treatments for animals on his organic farm at Highgrove to help reduce reliance on antibiotics.

Charles said his methods of farming tried wherever possible to "go with the grain of nature" to avoid dependency on antibiotics, pesticides and other forms of chemical intervention.

The prince made the comments to animal and human health experts at a summit in London as part of a global battle against the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.

Addressing the delegates, Charles said: "In fact, it was one of the reasons I converted my farming operation to an organic, or agro-ecological, system over 30 years ago, and why incidentally we have been successfully using homeopathic - yes, homeopathic - treatments for my cattle and sheep as part of a programme to reduce the use of antibiotics."

Prince Charles weeding his herb garden at Highgrove, Gloucestershire in 1986. Photo / Getty Images
Prince Charles weeding his herb garden at Highgrove, Gloucestershire in 1986. Photo / Getty Images

Calling for "urgent and coherent" global action, Charles said: "It must be incredibly frustrating to witness the fact that, as has been pointed out by many authorities, antibiotics have too often simply acted as a substitute for basic hygiene, or as it would seem, as a way of placating a patient who has a viral infection or who actually needs little more than patience to allow a minor bacterial infection to resolve itself."

Turning to farming, he said: "I find it difficult to understand how we can continue to allow most of the antibiotics in farming, many of which are also used in human medicine, to be administered to healthy animals.

"Could we not devise more effective systems where we reserve antibiotics for treating animals where the use is fully justified by the seriousness of the illness?"

The conference, held at the Royal Society, involved ministers and health experts discussing antimicrobial resistance (AML) in the context of a "one health" approach, which recognises that human health is connected to that of animals and the environment.

The meeting is one of a series of events leading up to the UN General Assembly in New York in September, where health experts will call for support for global action to tackle AML.