Antibiotic usage in pigs to be logged in NI

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An electronic medicines database for monitoring antibiotic usage in pigs has been launched in Northern Ireland.

The eMB-Pigs book is now available for all pig farmers and producers in order to collect accurate data and ensure that strict targets are being adhered to.

The medicines book addresses the increased concern over antibiotic usage in pork across the UK.

The database was developed by the Pig Health and Welfare Council, AHDB Pork and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate in partnership with the NI Pork and Bacon Forum and was wholly supported by the wider NI pork industry. Through this database Northern Ireland pork will be able to effectively demonstrate low levels of usage.

It’s been a legal requirement for all pig producers to keep a medicine book on farm to record all medication administered to livestock. However, producers can start using the eMB-Pigs website to enter their total medicine usage.

This is the first time a system of this type has been developed for the pig industry in the UK. It has been designed and piloted by a steering group made up of representatives from across the UK including the NI Pork and Bacon Forum.

Deirdre McIvor, Chief Executive of NI Pork and Bacon Forum said: “We very much welcome the eMB-Pigs book and it demonstrates the forward thinking nature of our pig producers and the industry’s desire to keep ahead of the curve in terms of market developments. We are incredibly proud of the high standards of quality pork that Northern Ireland produces and we believe that by monitoring antibiotic usage in our pigs we will help to safeguard the outstanding reputation of our industry by demonstrating that set targets are met.”

In what is another positive move for the industry, the NI Pork and Bacon Forum has also announced the formation of an industry-wide Collaborative Network, the first of its kind for the pig industry. The network has been set up to ensure the continued development and improvement of the industry which sustains 400 farming families and 2,000 jobs in Northern Ireland. The network which is part funded by Invest NI will work together over the next nine months to complete a feasibility study which will identify areas of improvement.

The network was a result of Pig ReGen Ltd, producers, processors, vets, the NI Pork and Bacon Forum, DAERA and the Ulster Farmers’ Union, coming together in order to develop ways to improve pig herd health, reduce disease and identify ways to increase efficiency in pig farms.

Deirdre McIvor continued: “The fact that so many members and representatives were not only willing but proactive in coming together to form this network for the benefit of all, is testament to the dedication of those in the industry. The pig industry has been coming under continued pressure from poor prices and low market returns and the commitment and support of our pig farmers, producers and processors for both the medicines database and the collaborative network is a bold and positive move, at a time of increasing uncertainty.”