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Red Tractor confirms eMB-Pigs requirement 

6th Feb 2017 / By Alistair Driver

Red Tractor has confirmed members of the pork scheme will be required to use the electronic medicine book (eMB-Pigs) to record antibiotics usage from this autumn.

RT porkThe change means, from November producers will need to have data from the previous two quarters uploaded to the e-MB on the total amount of antibiotics used, including in feed. Thereafter, it must be collated and uploaded on a quarterly basis.

Producers must start preparation for compliance with the new standards immediately. They are required to upload their antibiotic use for quarter two – April 1 to June 30 – and quarter three – July 1 to September 30 – by November 1 to ensure compliance with the Red Tractor scheme.

The NPA producer group backed a proposal last year to make eMB-Pigs a requirement of Red Tractor, agreeing the move was necessary to ensure the desired coverage for the antibiotic database.

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “This is a very important step forward for the pig industry. Collection and collation of on-farm antibiotic usage data is a key commitment of the NPA’s Antibiotic Stewardship programme.
“We are proud of how the pig industry is stepping up to the challenge and taking this big leap forward to demonstrate responsible use of antibiotics and reduce and refine usage where necessary.”

Increased uptake

embThe e-MB is a website platform developed by AHDB Pork to record collated data on antibiotic usage in the pig sector.
Red Tractor-assured farms already record all medicines that are administered, but until now the e-MB has been optional. 

Robust data collected on the database will help RUMA’s (Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance) Targets Task Force (TTF) to propose realistic reduction targets for the sector as national usage figures for UK pig holdings do not currently exist.

Uptake for the eMB-Pigs database has increased significantly over the past month or so.

The latest figures from AHDB Pork show data covering about 40 per cent of UK production is now on the system. More is expected to be added soon as AHDB Pork continues to work with the large pig producing companies and other parts of the supply chain, including vets and feed companies, to encourage uptake.

This represents a big leap from the coverage of only around the 20 per cent mark achieved before Christmas.

Overwhelming support

Red Tractor’s sector chairman for pigs, Mike Sheldon, said: “Red Tractor farmers currently administer antibiotics as little as possible but as much as is required. The e-MB will provide that data to demonstrate this point to government and its agencies.
“During the recent Red Tractor standards consultation we asked the whole industry for their comments and have received overwhelming support from retailers, trade associations and animal welfare groups.
“We appreciate that this will be new to most producers but electronic data will help the pig industry to play its part in tackling antimicrobial resistance – an issue which affects all livestock farmers.”

Valuable data

RUMA secretary general, John FitzGerald, said: “We are delighted that Red Tractor pig farmers will be required to use the e-MB as this will provide accurate information on antibiotic use in pig production.  
“This will provide valuable data for farmers managing their antibiotic use and the RUMA TTF. Indeed, as the TTF is required to complete its work in 2017 it would be very helpful if Red Tractor pig farmers used the e-MB as soon as they can.”
Nick Major, chairman of the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) said: “AIC fully supports Red Tractor’s move requiring producers to use the e-MB. Its members, who supply medicated pig feed, have been briefed that the frequency of sending in-feed medication reports to their farmer customers will increase from six monthly to quarterly.”
Martin Smith, AHDB Pork’s veterinary senior manager, said: “AHDB Pork welcomes this move by Red Tractor and although e-MB is straightforward to use, we are willing to help producers if they require assistance.”

eMB-Pigs guidance
A user guide for the e-MB is online to provide support to producers who need it. It can be found at here

The e-MB platform can be accessed here
Videos to help farmers upload data to the e-MB can be viewed here
A Webinar providing background plus real time overview of the system can be seen here