Electronic medicine book launched for pigs

An electronic medicine book for pigs (eMB-Pigs) has been launched for all UK pig producers to help collect accurate on-farm antibiotic usage data. The move is a reaction to increased concern over antibiotic usage, and is a sign that the pig industry is acting to put itself in a more informed position on the topic.

The system, which went live at midday today, is accessed via AHDB Pork’s PigHub, or direct at: https://emb-pigs.ahdb.org.uk A Nottinghamshire-based software developer has built the new platform, that allows users to maintain their medicine book “in the cloud” via the internet, or download Excel spreadsheet versions of the medicine book that can be stored on their computer and uploaded to provide antibiotic useage data.

Although the new eMB will store information on all antibiotics and medicine use for farms on the system, only aggregate data will be reported to Government for the purpose of establishing antimicrobial consumption by the pig industry.

AHDB Pork veterinary team manager Martin Smith said that, at present, only total antibiotic sales data for pigs and poultry was available, which didn’t give an accurate picture of pig-specific use.

“For this reason, AHDB Pork and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) have developed the eMB-Pigs website, which is also supported by Northern Ireland and the Scottish and Welsh levy bodies,” he added. “eMB-Pigs provides an electronic version of the existing paper medicine book; it’s a convenient way to record and quantify usage so producers can review and optimise their antibiotic use.

“For a long time now, it’s been a legal requirement for all pig producers to keep a medicine book on farm to record all medication administered to livestock. And it’s recently become a requirement of the Red Tractor farm assurance schemes that annual, aggregated, records of antibiotic use are kept, which include antibiotics administered in feed. eMB-Pigs will help producers collate this information.”

Mr Smith said producers could start using the eMB-Pigs website either to enter or upload their total antibiotic usage, or to replace their current medicine recording book or system completely.

“Future system developments will allow farm management software and mobile apps to interact with the eMB and automatically upload medicine usage data onto the system,” he added. “What’s more, the long-term view is that eMB-Pigs will help individual producers compare their on-farm usage to anonymised data from other similar units, to help them review their approach to antibiotic use and make management changes to reduce production costs.”

This is the first time a system of this type has been run for the pig industry. It has been designed and piloted in collaboration with vets and a group of producers from around the UK. Further feedback from producers and vets will be welcomed, and will be used to develop the system further during the coming months, tailoring it to be as easy as possible to use.

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About The Author

Graeme Kirk has been editor of Pig World since March 2013. Born into a farming family in South-west Scotland, he’s spent his career in agricultural journalism.