Pig antibiotic usage down again

Efforts of farmers and their vets praised for championing responsible UK antibiotic use, as use figures fall for third consecutive year.

Pig industry leaders have welcomed the latest figures that show the industry, for the third year running, reduced antibiotic usage in the UK.

Figures collected using the electronic medicine book (eMB) show antibiotic use in 2018 dropped by a further 16% on 2017 figures to reach 110mg/PCU, edging closer to the 2020 industry target of 99mg/PCU.

Critically important antibiotics

Data taken from eMB represent 89% of pigs slaughtered in the UK and show a drop from 131mg/PCU to 110mg/PCU between 2017 and 2018.

Significantly, the use of critically important antibiotics (CIAs) has also seen a decrease. Use of CIAs is recorded at 0.06mg/PCU, of which colistin represents only 0.004mg/PCU.

This year’s success may be attributed to several factors. Red Tractor added antibiotic recording in eMB into its pig standards, The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) developed a new benchmarking tool in eMB and the wider industry has continued to improve biosecurity.

Great efforts

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 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.”