Red Tractor pig producers have been told that they must use the electronic medicine book (e-MB) to record the collated antibiotics they administer to their herds.
The move follows widespread pig industry support for e-MB to “better demonstrate how producers are reducing usage”.
“Red Tractor farmers currently administer antibiotics as little as possible but as much as is required,” said Red Tractor’s sector chairman for pigs, Mike Sheldon. “The e-MB will provide that data to demonstrate this point to government and its agencies.”
Red Tractor-assured farms already record all medicines that are administered, but until now the e-MB has been optional. The move to a compulsory approach is based on consultation responses from the industry.
“We appreciate that this will be new to most producers but electronic data will help the pig industry to play its part in tackling antimicrobial resistance – an issue which affects all livestock farmers,” said Mr Sheldon.
The Red Tractor ruling means that from November this year producers must have data from the previous two quarters uploaded to the e-MB on the total amount of antibiotics used, including in feed. Thereafter, it must be collated and uploaded on a quarterly basis.
“Producers must start preparation for compliance with the new standards immediately,” said Red Tractor. “They are required to upload their antibiotic use for quarter two – April 1 to June 30– and quarter three – July 1 to September 30 – by November 1, 2017 to ensure compliance with the Red Tractor scheme.”
NPA chief executive, Zoe Davies, commented: “This is a very important step forward for the pig industry. Collection and collation of on-farm antibiotic usage data is a key commitment of the NPA’s Antibiotic Stewardship programme. We are proud of how the pig industry is stepping up to the challenge and taking this big leap forward to demonstrate responsible use of antibiotics and reduce and refine usage where necessary.”