UK pig industry reduces antibiotic use by 75%

THE UK pig industry has achieved a significant milestone by surpassing the 30% reduction target in total antibiotic use set by the RUMA Targets Task Force (TTF) between 2020 and 2024.

This represents an eight-year reduction of 75%, highlighting the collaborative efforts of farmers, veterinarians, and stakeholders in the pig industry.

The latest figures reveal a 20% reduction in antibiotic usage for treating pigs on farms in 2022. This brings the total reduction since 2015 to 75%, which the industry says highlights its dedication to promoting the health and welfare of pigs while minimising antibiotic use.

Data collected by AHDB using the electronic Medicine Book (eMB), representing approximately 95% of pigs slaughtered in the UK, show that antibiotic use in 2022 stood at 70mg/PCU, a significant improvement compared with 87mg/PCU in 2021.

AHDB Pork Sector Council member and National Pig Association Chair, Robert Mutimer, added “This data highlights the impressive collaborative efforts made by British pig producers and vets to reducing the use of antibiotics. Given all the well-known and difficult issues facing farmers, it is quite astounding that the goal has been exceeded.”

Quarterly data submissions to the eMB are in accordance with Red Tractor and QMS requirements. AHDB analyses the aggregated data and shares it with key stakeholders including the Pig Veterinary Society, National Pig Association, Pig Health and Welfare Council, RUMA, Veterinary Medicines Directorate. This collaboration provides a comprehensive overview of antibiotic use in the sector, enabling the industry to identify opportunities for optimising individual antibiotic usage.

Grace Webster, a vet and the chair of the Pig Health & Welfare Council Antimicrobial Use Subgroup said “This year’s significant reduction in antibiotic use on the UK’s pig farms takes the sector below the TTF2 target and in part, reflects the extended use of Zinc Oxide manufactured before the withdrawal of its marketing authorisation which the VMD authorised up to the end of the Shelf Life of that product. This has avoided an anticipated rise in antibiotic use to treat Post Weaning Diarrhoea in 2022 but as supplies run out in the coming months, this may still be an issue that vets and pig producers are yet to face.”


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