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Antibiotic data - why it is time for producers to take ownership

14th Dec 2016 / By Georgina Crayford

The pig industry is required to upload data on antibiotic usage covering 70 per cent of production by the end of this year.

GCWe need producers to take ownership of entering their own data onto the eMB-Pigs database, with the help of support on offer from across the industry, including feed companies and vets.  

But first, you could be forgiven for asking: Why exactly is this such a big issue?

It is about us collectively taking ownership of our destiny. In the early months of 2017, the Government is looking to agree with industry new 10-year sector targets to reduce and refine antibiotic usage.

If we can present our own data – with 70 per cent being the magic figure considered to be representative of the industry – we start from a position of strength. We can use hard data to negotiate reasonable, fair and workable targets.

If we do not have the data, we are effectively sidelined. The Government will decide for us, based on what it assumes we currently use, partly based on data presented by other sectors. The outcome will not be good – the targets will arbitrary and we will only have ourselves to blame.

We need the data.

We appreciate the efforts of everyone who has uploaded information so far. Cumulatively, data covering more than six million pigs has been uploaded, which is impressive but still represents less than 20 per cent of 2015 and 2016 production.

There are various reasons why uptake has not been of the level we would all have hoped for.

One of the big factors has been the time it is taking to get all the big corporate pig producing companies on board - AHDB Pork is working hard on this.

It has not always been clear what data is required and in what form it should be uploaded. AHDB Pork’s comprehensive guide, available online since the end of November and due to be distributed in the January edition of Pig World, should answer a lot of queries.

NPA have also been working closely with the feed and veterinary sectors, which are very willing to offer support to producers by ensuring they have the correct data and understand it.

They are doing everything they can to get the appropriate data to producers in a timely fashion and in a standardised format. That will make life much easier for producers.

Ownership

But ultimately, it is the responsibility of producers to enter their data onto eMB-Pigs and we want you to take ownership of this.

Yes, there is an immediate drive for the collective good to get the data on there now. But a really important message I want to get across is that by engaging with this process, you will benefit individually, too.

Some people equate it to a bank account. If you keep spending money and don’t check your account, you will have no way of knowing when you get into debt.

If you are aware of how much you’re spending, or the volume of antibiotics you are using, you can keep things in check and take action where necessary. Reducing unnecessary usage will boost your bottom line.

Next year, entering antibiotic data onto eMB-Pigs on a quarterly basis is likely to become a requirement of the Red Tractor scheme, trumping the need for annual medicine recording.

My message to you is, if you haven’t done so already, you might as well start now! Even if you use little to no antibiotics on your unit – we need to know.

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