Pig industry consultation planned on antibiotic use

A plan detailing how the UK pig industry might deal with antimicrobial usage is being drawn up for distribution as a consultation document, following an all-industry meeting in London.

The aim is to come up with an action plan aimed at reducing the amount of antimicrobials used, without jeopardising national herd health.

“Antimicrobial resistance has become a very dramatic and high profile issue,” said the general secretary of the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture alliance (RUMA), John Fitzgerald, who chaired the London meeting.

Promising that the action plan would be “tangible, practical and achievable” he said that the possible link between resistance in animals and humans meant that we were definitely going to see changes in future antimicrobial usage.

Some of the key pointers from the London meeting included:

  • Make sure data collection can all be done online                     
  • Data collection at farm level would be best
  • Consider both usage and health and welfare and what success might look like                     
  • Set up benchmarking to identify high users                     
  • Improve health, hygiene and biosecurity                     
  • Understand both the customer and consumer better                     
  • Look at genetic selection for disease resistance

BPEX veterinary team manager Martin Smith (pictured), who has been charged with drawing up the plan, in draft form, added: “The discussions at the meeting were very open. The issue was seen, not as one for farmers and vets, but one for the whole industry which was extremely positive.

“We are going to need incentives for the industry as they will need to know what benefits will accrue. I think the most important are in the area of benchmarking and early indications of problems on farm.”

The plan is already in preparation and will be put out for consultation “shortly”.

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