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How the new pig sector antibiotic targets were developed

11th Dec 2020 / By Rebecca Veale

NPA senior policy adviser Rebecca Veale was a key member of the Pig Health and Welfare Council (PHWC) AMU sub-group that played a big role in developing the new four-year pig sector antibiotic targets. Here she explains how the process worked.

Veale RebeccaRichard Pearson and Richard Lister are the pig industry representatives on the RUMA Targets Task Force II, but the work behind the next phase of antibiotic reduction targets has been undertaken by the PHWC AMU sub-group.

The process of putting together some targets may, on the face of it, appear a simple task, but in order for them to be meaningful, ambitious and achievable we have worked very hard to drill into the detail – which means we started well over a year ago!

We started off with the numerical targets but it became apparent that the non-numerical aspects were just as important and so we decided to include some holistic targets too.

We needed to ascertain what was feasible, how it could be delivered and also ensure that it was measurable.

For instance, a huge amount of debate and discussion took place around the Persistently High User (PHU) target and how they would be identified as it was vitally important that these producers felt supported and wanted to engage rather than feeling victimised. When we decided (following consultation with NPA and PVS members), we formulated the antibiotic reduction plan for producers to use with their vet.

Because we chose a percentage, it was very important that we included a review of how a PHU is identified.  If producers use less antibiotics overall, what is considered ‘higher’ may shift; therefore, in two years time we agreed that we will review all aspects of this target.

The other targets cover a real spectrum from training and eMB submission to best practice weaner management, so I urge you to take a look at the RUMA Targets Task Force Report 2020 – it also covers a review of the progress to date, which is a real triumph for our sector!

The new targets are for 2024, we have four years, but that will fly by, so our work as a group is by no means over, we continue to meet to discuss the delivery, plan and monitor progress.