The prudent use of antibiotics is already high on the agenda for most pig farmers, but their use will come under the spotlight in November on European Antibiotic Awareness Day.
This annual European public health initiative, taking place this year on the 18th, is designed to raise awareness about the threat to public health of antibiotic resistance and aims to promote prudent antibiotic use in both livestock and human medicine.
Antibiotics are essential medicines for treating bacterial infections in both humans and animals. Pig farmers can contribute positively to the issue by:
- using the right drug, the right way, at the right dose, at the right time;
- preventing diseases through the implementation of good herd health and bio-security;
- following the advice given by vets and using any antibiotics prescribed in accordance with their labelling instructions;
- completing the full course prescribed and observing any withdrawal period; and
- accepting that vets may not necessarily prescribe newer antibiotics as older classes of these medicines may be just as effective in treating animals and may reduce the development of resistance.
BPEX is a member of the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) alliance. RUMA seeks to establish practical strategies to enable farmers to reduce the need to use antimicrobials, and its guidelines have been designed to provide quick and easy-to-read principles that can be adopted by pig producers.
BPEX’s interim veterinary programme manager, Helen Clarke, said the organisation was currently working with vet practices, feed mills and pig producers to understand how antimicrobial usage was recorded and to help to develop ways of utilising this data.
“The aim is to give vets and producers simple ways of benchmarking a farm’s usage, so that appropriate targets for reduction can be set as part of the health plan,” she said. “It’s important we establish an accurate baseline since it’s likely that EU regulation will be developed that requires the recording and reduction of antimicrobials, such as has been seen with the Danish yellow card system. We want to ensure that this is appropriate for our industry and propose alternative methods.
“With all antibiotics, the simple rule is as much as necessary, but as little as possible.”