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Antibiotic usage in piglet feed halves in three years

3rd Mar 2017 / By Alistair Driver

The use of prescribed antibiotics administered in feed for young pigs has halved over the past three years, figures released by RUMA suggest.

young pigsData collected from the UK’s major feed compounders indicates that the proportion of all 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.

Paul Toplis, from the Agriculture Industries Confederation, which is a RUMA member, said the data confirmed action was being taken to change practices.

He said some of the reductions appeared to have been made possible by the use of zinc oxide, which is currently facing a ban for medicinal use in young piglets. When added to feed at medicinal levels, zinc can reduce the need for antibiotics in pigs by protecting the gut against E. coli bacteria, he said.

Mr Toplis said: “We are encouraged to see the rate of reduction in 2016 and this reflects the work between vets and farmers to make some courageous changes."

National Pig Association senior policy advisor Georgina Crayford said the association's Antibiotic Stewardship Programme, launched in 2016, had been helping drive behaviour change.

She said: “Among the programme’s recommendations are the capture of usage data on pig units, benchmarking use against similar farms, and supporting strict limits on the use of critically important antibiotics. We look forward to seeing the wider effects on use as data trends from the AHDB’s e-Medicine Book, also launched last year, start to come through later in 2017.”

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