Hundreds submit antibiotic data to eMB-Pigs in its first year
eMB-Pigs now covers around 60% of the pig herd in England, a year after its launch.
In total, 329 farmers from 1,500 farms have recorded their antibiotic usage on the eMB website, which this week celebrates its first anniversary.
Developed by AHDB Pork and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, the electronic medicine book is available to all UK producers and is supported by the Northern Ireland, Scottish and Welsh levy bodies.
It provides an electronic version of the existing paper medicines book and is a convenient way to record and quantify usage so producers can review and optimise their on-farm antibiotic use.
AHDB experts have welcomed the latest figures and say they’re confident farmers will continue to make full use of the website and enjoy the many benefits it brings to the industry.
AHDB Veterinary Senior Manager Martin Smith said: “There are many benefits for pork producers as eMB allows them to review their antimicrobial use data in a number of different ways. Producers are able to compare data between quarters or for producers with multiple sites, they are able to compare between holdings.
“The data also identify antimicrobials by different classes including highlighting those considered to be critical to human medicine.
“By reviewing antimicrobial use data, producers may be able to identify particular external effects such as seasonal variability that may be affecting the health of their herds. All of this information allows producers to review their units alongside their veterinary surgeon and seek routes to reduce usage.”
From October it will be a Red Tractor requirement that quarterly antimicrobial data is entered into eMB-Pigs. Producers will also be required to upload retrospective data.
“I think there still remains some reluctance from producers to engage with the eMB,” said Martin. “For some producers this is because they already have systems for collecting data which comply with the current Red Tractor requirements. However, we believe the opportunity exists to transfer these data to the eMB and so gain the advantages of using a national system.
“There is also some reluctance to engage with the computer technology and there is some fear of the complexity of the IT systems. However many producers have found that once they give it a go the system is surprisingly easy to use.
“AHDB Pork is providing support through the Knowledge Exchange team for those producers who may require extra assistance. There is also detailed help available through the AHDB Pork website.”
In 2016, an independent review of antimicrobial resistance by Lord O’Neill, commissioned by the government, recommended that livestock sectors set independent reduction targets of total antimicrobial use.
This recommendation was adopted by the government and has driven the need for on-farm antimicrobial use data for 2015 to establish a baseline figure for total use in pigs.
Martin said: “eMB is a dynamic system and will allow producers to benchmark their holdings against the national average for units in the same category.
“We hope to see the upward trend in antimicrobial data being uploaded onto eMB continue. Overall the response from the industry has been positive. It is hoped that the already positive stories from producers using the system to reduce and optimise their usage continues and more producers see the huge benefits to their businesses.”