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'We continue to be in a very good place' - NPA chair's response to 2019 antibiotic data

1st Jun 2020 / By Richard Lister

NPA chairman Richard Lister gives his take on the 2019 eMB-Pigs antibiotic data, released today.

I am pleased to say that the 2019 eMB data has been published and we continue to be in a very good place.

Lister 6For those that have worked with your vet to address issues, made improvements to your unit and maintained or reduced your antibiotic usage, you have made a difference. And for those that have experienced health challenges and needed to use more antibiotics then thank you for doing the responsible thing and treating your pigs when they have been sick.

Some may criticise that we haven’t hit the target for this year but what has happened demonstrates that we, as producers with our vets, have responsibly managed the health, and welfare, of our pigs, which will always be our priority.

The health issue that some producers have had to deal with is Swine Dysentry (SD) and unfortunately this spread during 2019. There are two options when you have SD in a herd, one is to depopulate the unit (but that won’t be an option for all producers), and the other is to treat pigs with antibiotics (normally pleuromutilins), often as part of an elimination strategy. As the PHWC AMU sub-group we have looked at the eMB data in more detail and it was clear that during the quarters when SD has been an issue, there was an increase in pleuromutilin use to treat this disease.

But despite the increase in use to treat for SD we have not increased the overall use since last year which shows that many have made great progress in responsible use and I think that should be congratulated.

It’s not always easy or quick to make changes and ensure we don’t compromise the health of our pigs but I am very proud of how far we, as the pig industry, have come. We’ve reduced antibiotic usage by over 60% since 2015 and our use of Critically Important Antibiotics has continued to fall - 0.04mg/PCU in 2019 with Colistin use even lower at 0.002mg/PCU.

As we carry on planning the next phase of targets I know we are in a good place as a sector to continue to reduce our usage responsibly.