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NPA welcomes significant reduction in antibiotic use in pigs

30th May 2019 / By Alistair Driver

The NPA other industry leaders have welcomed the latest figures showing another significant reduction in antibiotic usage in the pig sector.

emb figures 2018

Figures collected using the electronic medicine book (eMB) show antibiotic use dropped by a further 16% in 2018 to reach 110 mg/PCU, edging closer to the 2020 industry target of 99 mg/PCU and in line with annual targets.

The figures show a continued reduction from 131mg/PCU in 2017, 183mg/PCU in 2016 and 238mg/PCU in 2015.

Equally, if not more significantly, there has also been a further decrease in the use of critically important antibiotics (CIAs), recorded at just 0.06mg/PCU in 2018, of which Colistin represented a negligible 0.004mg/PCU. The CIA figure is down from 0.1mg/PCU in 2017.

Adding extra weight to the figures, the data taken from eMB represents 89% of pigs slaughtered in the UK.

NPA response 

NPA senior policy advisor Rebecca Veale said: “We are really pleased with these results, which show the industry remains well on track to meet the challenging antibiotic targets set by the pig industry via the RUMA targets task force in 2017.

“This continuing progress demonstrates the pig industry’s responsible approach to antibiotics and the ongoing hard work of producers, with their vets and others involved in pig production.

“Engagement and support from vets will continue to be very important as the industry works to deliver further reductions in the coming years, with an industry-wide focus on pig health.”

However, she warned that there will be challenges ahead, notably the loss of zinc oxide and the potential impact this could have on disease in post-weaned piglets.

“We must also continue to bear in mind that antibiotics are a necessary tool to treat sick animals on pig farms. As we strive to deliver further reductions, the aim must always to be responsible use, rather than zero use, to ensure the welfare of pigs is maintained.”

AHDB’s Senior Veterinary Manager Mandy Nevel said: “The latest reductions in antibiotic use in the UK pig sector reflect the great efforts of pig producers and their vets to champion responsible antibiotic use.

“As we approach the target set by the UK pig industry, it is important that producers work with their vets to ensure further reductions don’t compromise animal welfare. Antibiotics are a vital tool that enable vets to control disease in pigs and early treatment, where appropriate, is essential to ensure welfare.”

Angela Christison, AHDB’s Pork Strategy Director said: “This is really positive progress and demonstrates the relentless commitment from the sector to use antibiotics responsibly.”

AHDB highlighted improved industry biosecurity, the move by Red Tractor to add antibiotic recording in eMB into their pig standards and a new benchmarking tool it has developed in eMB as among the factors contributing to the latest reduction.

eMB’s benchmarking function allows producers to benchmark themselves against other producers with similar production systems. This has enabled producers to understand their own patterns of use and, alongside their vets, make informed decisions around animal treatments, including antibiotic use, AHDB said.