The UK pig sector is making ‘significant’ strides in reducing the use of antibiotics in livestock. Figures released show that less than 18% of all feed for young pigs in 2016 contained antibiotics, compared to 37% in 2014.
The Pig Veterinary Society has applauded the news and praised the efforts of vets who work with pig farmers to promote responsible and reduced use of antibiotics and regularly visit the herds in their care.
Susanna Williamson, President of The Pig Veterinary Society commented: “veterinary expertise and advice is essential in assessing disease risks and selecting suitable control options which should be tailor-made to suit each individual farm. The effects of any antibiotics should be closely monitored to promote good pig health and welfare and to reduce antibiotic treatment where possible.”
Paul Toplis of the Agriculture Industries Confederation (AIC) added: “some of the reductions in antibiotic use have been made possible by using zinc oxide. When added to feed at medicinal levels, zinc oxide can reduce the need for antibiotics in pigs as it protects the gut against E. coli bacteria.”
Speaking on behalf of the National Pig Association (NPA), Georgina Crayford claims that their Antibiotic Stewardship Programme has been helping to drive behaviour change. The programme includes recommendations on the capture of usage data on pig units, benchmarking this use against similar farms, and supporting strict limits on the use of critically important antibiotics.
John FitzGerald from RUMA, which promotes responsible use of medicines in livestock, welcomed the news stating that the figures were indicative of the wider industry commitment to responsible antibiotic use.