Antibiotic data representing more than half the 2015 UK pig herd has been loaded onto the eMB-Pigs database, with efforts now being stepped up to secure the remaining data.
By the end of February, information covering more than 18 million pigs was on the system, with 5,730 returns submitted covering 1,369 sites.
The latest figures represented 53% of the pigs slaughtered in England in 2015 and 44% of 2016 slaughterings.
There has been a marked increase in the headline numbers since before Christmas when the percentages remained below the 20 per cent mark, as AHDB Pork has worked with the big pig producing companies, and with vets and feed suppliers, to get the data onto the system.
An AHDB Pork spokesperson thanked the industry for its engagement in the initiative but stressed there was still a lot of work to do.
An antibiotic Targets Task Force, overseen by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) alliance is discussing long-term targets for reducing and refining antibiotic use for all livestock sectors. These are expected to be agreed with the Government during the summer.
RUMA secretary general, John FitzGerald, said increased use of eMB-Pigs would provide valuable data for farmers and the RUMA task force.
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies described the latest figures as ‘encouraging progress’ and urged producers to be aware of the new Red Tractor requirements and to starting acting now if they haven’t already’.
“Even if you don’t use antibiotics or you use very little, it is still essential that you enter your data to ensure we present an accurate picture. We need to show evidence of current levels of antibiotic use to secure workable, long-term reduction targets.”
Red Tractor confirmed last month that members of the pork scheme would be required to upload data onto eMB-Pigs on a quarterly basis from this November.
Red Tractor pork chairman Mike Sheldon, said the data would demonstrate to the Government that ‘farmers currently administer antibiotics as little as possible but as much as is required’.
What the new Red Tractor requirement means
By November 1, 2017, pork scheme members must have uploaded their total antibiotic usage onto eMB-Pigs for the following quarters:
Quarter 2: April 1 – June 30, 2017
Quarter 3: July 1 – September 30, 2017
From then on, you must demonstrate at assessment that you upload collated antibiotic data on an ongoing quarterly basis, and in a timely fashion.
Your most recent data usage must be no more than four months old at any one time.
To use eMB-Pigs, go to: https://emb-pigs.ahdb.org.uk/