Pig industry left “in the dark” about antibiotic usage
Published:  22 November, 2016

Following on from the news that the UK is on course to meet antibiotic targets, the pig sector is encouraging producers to play their part in setting realistic reduction targets for this spring. 

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Pork division has called on farmers to send in their 2015 on-farm antibiotic usage data in any shape or form before the end of the year, subsequently providing clarity for the pig sector and helping to set achievable goals.

“These reduction targets, which will run for 10 years from 2018, will add to mounting government pressure on producers,” said Martin Smith, AHDB Pork veterinary team manager.

“The industry will be setting these targets in less than six months and they could have a big impact on production. At the moment, we’re in the dark about usage as we only know total antibiotic sales for pigs and poultry combined. This obviously doesn’t give us an accurate picture of pig-specific use and that’s why we need the help of every pig farmer.

“It’s vital that producers help us to help themselves, and they can do this by sending in their data so it can be used to benchmark and help set informed, realistic and achievable targets. I cannot stress enough how important it is that we pull together and take a united approach.”

Industry producers are being told that the only thing they have to do is to send in antibiotic usage data in any form to their Knowledge Exchange (KE) manager, or the pig hub email address. The information will then be uploaded anonymously to the electronic medicines book (eMB-Pigs). This provides a storage platform of on-farm antibiotic usage.

“To date, uptake from producers has been good, but we really need to get at least 70% of total pig production figures,” added Smith. “That’s why we’re happy that producers send us their data and we’ll upload it anonymously to the system.”