Pig industry has halved its antibiotic use in two years, says report

PUBLISHED: 17:32 02 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:32 02 August 2018

Pigs in north Norfolk. Picture: Ian Burt

Pigs in north Norfolk. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

The pig industry says it has halved its antibiotic usage in the last two years, following urgent calls to help prevent the rise of drug-resistant infections in human medicine.

The National Pig Association’s (NPA’s) updated antibiotic stewardship programme report highlights the “huge strides” made since the O’Neill Review on Antimicrobial Resistance was published in 2016.

It says overall antibiotic usage in pigs has halved between 2015 and 2017, while usage of the “highest priority critically-important antibiotics” fell from 0.98 mg/PCU (milligrams per population correction unit) to just 0.1 mg/PCU in 2017.

It also shows the extent to which the industry has embraced data recording, with antibiotic data submitted to the pioneering electronic Medicines Book (eMB) covering 87% of pigs slaughtered in the UK in 2017.

Meanwhile Red Tractor standards have been updated, a new cross-sector “animal medicines best practice” training programme has been launched, and farmers and vets are working together to improve biosecurity and disease control on farms.

NPA senior policy advisor Georgina Crayford said the progress made since 2015 was “nothing short of staggering”.

“That is testament to the way all parts of the industry have come together to first accept, then rise to the challenge – this is a truly collaborative effort,” she said.

“Everybody understands that there is still much more to do. But after reading this report, it will become clear just how hard this industry is working to reduce and refine antibiotic use and improve overall pig health.”

The pig industry is an important East Anglian farming sector, with an estimated 20pc of the national herd kept in Norfolk and Suffolk.

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