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Antibiotic targets - meeting the challenge

9th Nov 2017 / By Alistair Driver

There will still be a need for targeted prophalyaxis but routine prophylaxis should be rapidly phased out as the pig industry addresses its new antibiotic targets.

This is one of the core conclusions of the Targets Task Force (TTF) that recently set out new antibiotic targets across the food producing sectors, announced at a recent Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) alliance conference in London

For pigs, based on a proposal by NPA chairman Richard Lister and Mark White, president of the Pig Veterinary Society (PVS), the TFF set out a target of reducing antibiotic use by 62.4% from a 2015 baseline level of 263.5mg/PCU (Population corrected units) in the following steps:

Year 1 reduction 35%: 2016 target 171mg/PCU (already achieved)

Year 2 reduction target 25%: 2017 target 128mg/PCU

Year 3 reduction target 10%: 2018 target 115.5mg/PCU

Year 4 reduction target 10%: 2019 target 104mg/PCU

Year 5 reduction target 5%: 2020 target 99mg/PCU

Future industry-wide antibiotic use will be monitored via eMB-Pigs, but it is yet to be decided how, and by whom, individual farm usage will be monitored. However, the report noted that the highest users ‘may have to bear a disproportionate share of the total planned reduction’.

The report highlights how some producers have made reduced antibiotics by a combination of attitudinal change, improved vaccination, disease elimination strategies, better biosecurity, husbandry changes, investment in infrastructure and moving away from in-feed medication.

Preventative medication

It said the need for ‘targeted prophylaxis’, preventative medication in the short to medium term in response to specific disease challenges, will remain to protect the health and welfare of pigs – particularly where no vaccines are available or producers faced persistent problems ‘that prove intractable to non-antibiotic interventions’.

However, habitual or routine prophylaxis (a ‘just in case’ approach) ‘should be rapidly phased out’, the report suggested.

But metaphylaxis, the treatment of whole groups of pigs once disease has occurred in some of that cohort, will remain ‘a fundamental requirement to ensure health and welfare in pig populations’, the report added.

Addressing one of the pig industry’s biggest concerns, it stressed that monitoring of health and welfare will be essential and, if problems arise, the targets will need to be reviewed and, possibly, amended.

More details

The latest edition of Pig World took an in-depth look at the targets, the progress made in reducing use last year, including critically important antibiotics, and some of the wider issues, including factors that could hamper progress towards meeting them. 

To read the full article, click here

To read NPA chairman Richard Lister's take on the targets, including a summary of the actions needed to meet them, click here

To read a summary of efforts in the Netherlands to reduce antibiotic use, click here

To read the views of the Royal Veterinary College's Mandy Nevel, currently on a secondment to AHDB, click here