According to data taken from the electronic medicine book (eMB), it was revealed that usage in 2018 dropped by 16% on 2017 figures to reach 110 mg/PCU, moving closer to the 2020 industry target of 99 mg/PCU.
The data taken from eMB represent 89% of pigs slaughtered in the UK and shows a drop from 131 mg/PCU to 110 mg/PCU between 2017 and 2018.
Critically Important antibiotics (CIA) also saw a decrease during the year.
The reduction has been attributed to several factors including Red Tractor adding antibiotic recording in eMB into their pig standards, AHDB developing a new benchmarking tool in eMB and the wider industry has continuing to improve biosecurity.
Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) senior veterinary manager Mandy Nevel praised the industry for the progress made. “The latest reductions in antibiotic use in the UK pig sector reflect the great efforts of pig producers and their vets to champion responsible antibiotic use. As we approach the target set by the UK pig industry, it is important that producers work with their vets to ensure further reductions don’t compromise animal welfare. Antibiotics are a vital tool that enable vets to control disease in pigs and early treatment, where appropriate, is essential to ensure welfare.”
Angela Christison, AHDB’s pork strategy director, added that “this is really positive progress and demonstrates the relentless commitment from the sector to use antibiotics responsibly”.
National Pig Association senior policy advisor Rebecca Veale said: “We are really pleased with these results, which show the industry remains well on track to meet the challenging antibiotic targets set by the pig industry via the RUMA targets task force in 2017.
“This continuing progress demonstrates the pig industry’s responsible approach to antibiotics and the ongoing hard work of producers, with their vets and others involved in pig production.
“Engagement and support from vets will continue to be very important as the industry works to deliver further reductions in the coming years, with an industry-wide focus on pig health.”
Veale warned that there will be challenges ahead, notably the loss of zinc oxide and the potential impact this could have on disease in post-weaned piglets.
“We must also continue to bear in mind that antibiotics are a necessary tool to treat sick animals on pig farms. As we strive to deliver further reductions, the aim must always to be responsible use, rather than zero use, to ensure the welfare of pigs is maintained.”