‘Pig farmers are doing their bit’

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The Ulster Farmers’ Union says that pig farmers are taking antibiotic resistance seriously and should be recognised for the huge strides they’ve made in reducing the use of these important medicines.

The comments were made following the AHDB announcement that the UK pig industry reduced its antibiotic usage by 28 per cent in 2017, bringing the total reduction over the last two years to more than 50 per cent.

UFU pork and bacon chairman Norman Robson said: “Pig farmers are doing their bit to help curb antibiotic resistance. The reduction in antibiotic usage in the UK pig sector over the last two years has been excellent. This demonstrates the hard work and commitment displayed by pig farmers, their vets and other advisors to use antibiotics responsibly.”

According to the latest data taken from the electronic medicine book (eMB), which represents data from 87 per cent of the pigs slaughtered in the UK, antibiotic usage dropped from 183 mg/PCU to 131 mg/PCU over the last 12 months. The news comes seven months after industry targets were announced by the RUMA Targets Task Force to reduce antibiotic usage in the pig sector by over 60 per cent between 2015 and 2020.

Mr Robson said: “We knew that the targets set would be challenging, but producers are rising to the challenge every day. However, each year will prove progressively harder to make improvements, so we must not rest on our laurels if we are to reach our target of 99mg/PCU by 2020. There is further work to be done to reduce antibiotic use, such as improving ongoing collaborative efforts to tackle endemic diseases, improving on-farm biosecurity, investing in buildings and infrastructure to improve the growing environment and continuing to move away from in-feed medication towards more strategic water or systemic treatments.”