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Poultry sector reduces antibiotic use by 71%

27th Jun 2017 / By Alistair Driver

The poultry sector has published figures showing a 71% reduction in antibiotic usage over a four-year period. 

The British Poultry Council (BPC) published its 2017 Antibiotic Stewardship Report this week, describing 2016 as 'a year of enormous progress for the British poultry meat industry'. Achievements included:

  • Stopped the prophylactic use of antibiotics
  • Stopped the use of Colistin
  • Agreed new antibiotic standards for Red Tractor Poultry Assurance (coming into force in October 2017)
  • From 2012 to 2016 the UK poultry meat sector reduced its use of antibiotics by weight by a massive 71% (23.72 tonnes in 2016). Across the same period poultry meat production has increased by 11% (1.79 million tonnes in 2016).

For more on this story, see Pig World 

The pig and poultry sectors have both made significant strides towards reducing antibiotic use, with new sector specific targets set to be announced in the autumn. 

A year on from the publication of the NPA's Antibiotic Stewardship Programme, the pig industry has also made some notable strides forward, inclduding: 

Antibiotic Stewardship Programme progress

Georgina outlined some of the progress made under the stewardship programme over the past 12 months:

  • Antibiotic data covering 70% of 2016 pig production is now on the eMB-Pigs database, enabling a robust usage estimate to be made
  • Entering data onto eMB-Pigs is to become a requirement of the Red Tractor pork scheme from this autumn
  • Official Government figures showed sales of antibiotic products licensed for pigs-only were down 24% in 2015, with sales for pigs and poultry down 10 per cent
  • Further signifcant reductions in sales and usage are expected for 2016 and 2017
  • The figures also confirmed low usage of Critically Important Antibiotics (CIAs) and low resistance to these
  • Numerous examples of pig companies, farmers, vets and the allied industries working together to use antibiotics more responsibly
  • For, example, figures supplied by the feed industry showed the proportion of feed for young pigs containing a prescribed antibiotic fell from 37% at the beginning of 2014 to 18% by the end of 2016, with two thirds of the reduction taking place last year
  • Some businesses and individual farms have stopped all in-feed medication and switched to targeted water medication or use of vaccination as an alternative 
  • Practical advice is being made available to farmers and to improve pig health and reduce antibiotic use via industry bodies, such as AHDB Pork, supply chain companies and publications such as Pig World
  • Efforts are being made to improve education across the industry, including the introduction of specific content on responsible antibiotic use to the City & Guilds Level 2 Certificate of Competence in the Safe and Responsible Use of Veterinary Medicines
  • Work is being done to find alternatives to antibiotics, such as through autogenous vaccination, bacteriophage technology and advanced genetic techniques.

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