Saturday, October 19, 2019

Latest results show further reduction in antibiotics

July 2, 2019 by  
Filed under Livestock

Pig industry leaders have welcomed figures showing that the sector has reduced its antibiotic usage for the third year running.

Antibiotic use dropped by 16% to 110 mg/PCU during 2018 – edging closer to the 2020 industry target of 99 mg/PCU. The figures were collected using the electronic medicine book (eMB), which represents 89% of pigs slaughtered in the UK.

The figure compares to 131mg/PCU in 2017. Significantly, the use of critically important antibiotics also decreased. Use of CIAs is recorded at 0.06 mg/PCU – of which Colistin represents only 0.004 mg/PCU.

The fall may be attributed to several factors: Red Tractor added antibiotic recording in eMB into their pig standards, AHDB developed a new benchmarking tool in eMB and the wider industry has continued to improve biosecurity.

Vital tool

AHDB 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.”

Ms Nevel added: “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.”

The eMB benchmarking function allows producers to benchmark themselves against other producers with similar production systems. This has enabled producers to understand patterns of use and make informed decisions around animal treatments – including antibiotics.

AHDB Pork strategy director Angela Christison described the fall as good news for the industry. She said: “This is really positive progress and demonstrates the relentless commitment from the sector to use antibiotics responsibly.”

The National Pig Association said the reduction reflected the sterling efforts of producers. But it warned that there will be challenges ahead, notably from the loss of zinc oxide and the potential impact this could have on disease in post-weaned piglets.

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 ongoing industry-wide focus on pig health, said Ms Veale.

She added: “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.”

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