Pig industry leaders have welcomed the latest figures which show, that for the third year running, the sector has reduced its antibiotic usage.

Figures collected using the electronic medicine book (eMB) show that antibiotic use in 2018 dropped by a further 16% on 2017 figures to reach 110 mg/PCU, edging closer to the 2020 industry target of 99 mg/PCU.

The data represents 89% of pigs slaughtered in the UK and shows a drop from 131 mg/PCU to 110 mg/PCU between 2017 and 2018.

Significantly, the use of critically-important antibiotics has also seen a decrease. Use of these is recorded at 0.06 mg/PCU - of which, Colistin, represents only 0.004 mg/PCU.

This year’s success may be attributed to several factors:

  • Red Tractor added antibiotic recording in eMB into its pig standards;
  • AHDB developed a new benchmarking tool in eMB; and
  • Improvements in biosecurity.

AHDB’s senior veterinary manager Mandy Nevel said: “The latest reductions in antibiotic use in the UK pig sector reflect the great efforts of pig producers and their vets to champion responsible antibiotic use.

"As we approach the target set by the UK pig industry, it is important that producers work with their vets to ensure further reductions don’t compromise animal welfare.

Antibiotics are a vital tool that enable vets to control disease in pigs and early treatment, where appropriate, is essential to ensure welfare.

The benchmarking function allows producers to compare themselves against other producers with similar production systems.

This has allows producers to understand their own patterns of use and, make informed decisions around animal treatments, such as appropriate antibiotic use.

Angela Christison, AHDB’s pork strategy director added: “This is really positive progress and demonstrates the relentless commitment from the sector to use antibiotics responsibly.”