UK pig industry halves antibiotic usage in two years

Industry leaders have welcomed latest figures which show the pig industry reduced antibiotic usage in the UK by 28 per cent in 2017, bringing the total reduction in two years to more than 50 per cent.

According to the latest data taken from the electronic medicine book (eMB), which represents 87 per cent of pigs slaughtered in the UK, 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 two years – with the latest figure building on a 34 per cent cut in usage between 2015 and 2016.

The news has been welcomed by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) which has worked closely with the National Pig Association (NPA), the British Pig Association (BPA), Pig Veterinary Society (PVS), meat levy bodies Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) Northern Ireland Pork and Bacon Forum (NIPBF) and Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), as well as the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) to help cut the use of antibiotics.

It comes just seven months after targets were announced by the Targets Task Force, set up by RUMA, to reduce antibiotic usage in the pig industry by over 60 per cent 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.

President of the Pig Veterinary Society Duncan Berkshire 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 per cent in the last two 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.”