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Antibiotic Usage in the Pig Industry

Antibiotics have a vital role to play in livestock production where they are used to treat illness. They must be prescribed by a vet and they must not be used to cover up for poor husbandry.

The pig industry is well aware of its responsibilities and belongs to RUMA, the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance.

The use of antibiotics as growth promoters in pigs has been outlawed throughout the EU since 2006. Whenever antibiotics are used, the relevant animals are not allowed to go to slaughter for a set period of time to allow residues to clear. 

Any isolation of resistant bacteria in food producing animals is of concern therefore the livestock sector is working to implement the UK’s Five Year Antibiotic Resistance Strategy. The Pig Health and Welfare Council has established an antibiotics usage sub-group.  Its aims include:

  • Determining the quantity of antibiotic used, by active ingredient, in UK pig production
  • Determining how antibiotics are used in UK pig production and how the amount and frequency of use can be optimised while maintaining production levels and health and welfare standards.
  • Informing pig producers and vets on how they can use antibiotics responsibly.
  • Producing an action plan of short, medium and long term tangible actions and to monitor progress against the plan.

The basic rule of thumb for the use of antibiotics is as much as necessary but as little as possible considering the needs of the animal.

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The use of antimicrobials has been under increased scrutiny due to concerns over new ‘multi resistant’ bacterial strains. There is a Europe-wide drive to reduce the potential risks of AMR developing and protecting against the development of resistance against certain reserved classes of antibiotics.

For more, please see an article here

In 2013 the Department of Health outlined a UK wide five-year action plan to target the risk of AMR and as part of this the Veterinary Medicines Directorate has is monitoring usage. The VMD identified the need for the UK pig sector to improve the recording of antimicrobial usage.  The VMD has compiled a surveillance study which continues to monitor the levels of antimicrobial usage against resistance within different animal species, in the UK.

For the VMD report UK Veterinary Antibiotic Resistance and Sales Surveillance 2013 click here 

Click here to use Antimicrobial Tool