August 13, 2022

Sharp drop in antibiotic use in UK pig sector recorded last year

The volume of antibiotics used to treat pigs on UK farms in 2021 has fallen by 17%, bringing the total reduction since 2015 to 69%, according to new figures reported by the AHDB.

According to data collected using the electronic medicine book (eMB), accounting for around 95% of pigs slaughtered in the UK, antibiotic use fell to 87mg/PCU last year from 105mg /PKU in 2020.

This represents a positive step towards the achievement of the second set of objectives developed by the RUMA Targets working groupa 30% reduction in total antibiotic use by the end of 2024, based on 2020 data.

It is important to note that the use of the highest priority critically important antibiotics (HP-CIA) remains at a very low level, with a slight decrease from 0.05 mg/PCU to 0.03 mg/PCU recorded in 2021. No use of colistin was reported in pigs in 2021.

HP-CIAs, as classified by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), are most important to human medical health and reducing their use has been a priority for all farm animal sectors in the UK since management efforts have intensified.

The only class of antibiotics in which a reduction was not recorded is that of aminoglycosides. Utilization increased slightly, to 8.06 mg/PCU in 2021 from 7.89 mg/PCU in 2020, continuing the trend seen in the 2020 data.

HP-CIA data 21You can see a more detailed breakdown of the data HERE


Grace Webster, Veterinarian and Chair of the Pig Health & Welfare Council’s Antimicrobial Use Subgroup, said: “This is another big reduction in antibiotic use in the UK pig herd in during a very difficult year for pig farmers. This reflects a positive attitude and hard work on the part of our veterinarians and breeders to ensure that good antibiotic management is applied in our pig farms.

“There are undoubtedly challenges as the industry continues to adapt to the loss of zinc oxide to control post-weaning diarrhea, and this is reflected in a slight increase in the use of aminoglycosides, but we are reassured by a further reduction in the use of the highest priority critically important antibiotics.

AHDB sector council chair Mike Sheldon praised the industry’s hard work: “For UK pig farmers and their vets to have achieved this substantial reduction in antimicrobial use would have been an achievement. wonderful whatever the year. To achieve this over the past year, with all the well-known and daunting issues facing farmers, is frankly incredible.

AHDB’s Animal Health and Welfare Manager, Dr Mandy Nevel, also praised the pig industry: “Last year has been extremely difficult for the pig sector and this reduction of the use of antibiotics is good news. We know that animal husbandry has a big impact on disease levels and the fact that the industry has not turned to antibiotics as a fallback during this time is a reflection of the importance with which this issue is held. by the industry and the high standards we have. ”

Jim Morris, PVS Senior Vice President, said: “The Pig Veterinary Society welcomes the latest figures showing a 17% year-on-year reduction in antimicrobial use by the UK pig sector. This reflects the hard work of UK pig farmers and their vets and reflects their commitment to the responsible use of antibiotics. The decline in the use of critically important antibiotics of the highest priority is particularly welcome.

Rebecca Veale, NPA Senior Policy Advisor, said: “The eMB figures for 2021 show the continued focus of pig producers and veterinarians on the responsible approach to drug use and pig health. – the reductions are entirely due to their sustained efforts.

“The past few years have been and continue to be difficult for growers due to labor issues, backlogs and rising input costs, but they have not let down standards and the health and welfare of the pigs remains high, which they should be very proud of. ”

“As the pork industry, our commitment to responsible drug use remains steadfast. We have set voluntary goals through the RUMA Goals Working Group in 2017 and 2020, they are ambitious and set the direction of travel with both numerical and holistic goals. We recognize that there will be further challenges, including regulatory changes, but the latest figures from eMB show that we are on track to meet them by 2024.”

Data is submitted to the eMB, supported by a requirement from Red Tractor and QMS for quarterly submission, before being analyzed by AHDB and shared with the Pig Veterinary Society (PVS), NPA, Pig Health and Welfare Council, RUMA , Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD ) and other stakeholders to generate a comprehensive view of antibiotic use in its sector. The data allows industry to examine more nuanced variations in individual antibiotic use to identify potential optimisations.

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