UK pig farms: 50% less antibiotic usage in 2 years

15-05-2018 | | |
Photo: Henk Riswick
Photo: Henk Riswick

As the biannual Pig & Poultry Fair has kicked off in the United Kingdom, the news broke that the British pig industry has reduced antibiotic usage by 28% in 2017, bringing the total reduction in 2 years to more than 50%.

A press release communicated by the country’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) pointed to the latest data taken from the electronic medicine book (eMB), which represents 87% of pigs slaughtered in the UK. In this group, antibiotic usage on pig farms dropped from 183 mg/PCU to 131 mg/PCU within 12 months.

The 2017 reduction means the pig industry has more than halved its antibiotic usage within the last 2 years – with the latest figure building on a 34% cut in usage between 2015 and 2016.

Reducing antibiotic usage in British pigs

It comes 7 months after targets were announced by the Targets Task Force, set up by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA), to reduce antibiotic usage in the pig industry by over 60% between 2015 and 2020.

Developed by AHDB Pork and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), the electronic medicine book is available to all UK producers and is supported by the Northern Ireland, Scottish and Welsh levy bodies.

It provides an electronic version of the paper medicines book to record and quantify usage so producers can review and optimise their on-farm antibiotic use. Since October last year, it became a Red Tractor requirement that quarterly antibiotic data are entered into eMB.

“Impressive reductions in antibiotic use in 2017”

Prof Peter Borriello, chief executive officer of the VMD, said: “Congratulations to the pig sector on these impressive reductions in antibiotic use in 2017, which build on those already seen in 2016.

“These achievements are the result of high level collaboration across the industry to deliver on a challenging and rigorous on-going plan to reduce and refine antibiotic use, while maintaining the health and welfare of pigs.”

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“Ongoing commitment to reduce the use of antibiotics”

In the press release, Duncan Berkshire, president of the Pig Veterinary Society, said: “PVS is pleased to see the recent results from the ongoing commitment to reduce the total use of antibiotics within the pig sector and would like to congratulate our members and pig producers on a reduction of over 50% in the last 2 years.

“These first steps have shown good progress towards the targets that have been set and we look forward to working with producers and the allied industries over the coming years.”

The British Pig & Poultry Fair takes place in Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, on 15 and 16 May, 2018.

ter Beek
Vincent ter Beek Editor of Pig Progress / Topic: Pigs around the world