On-farm antibiotic usage data from 2015 onwards has been uploaded onto the industry’s centralised database known as eMB-Pigs (run by AHDB).
From October 2017, pig producers must upload farm usage figures to eMB on a quarterly basis.
National data collected from the UK’s major feed compounders indicate that at the beginning of 2014, 37% of all feed for young pigs contained a prescribed antibiotic; this had more than halved to 18% by the end of 2016.
In 2016, overall usage in the pig sector fell 34% in one year, to 183mg/PCU. Use of colistin, a critically important antibiotic, in pigs had been previously reported to have fallen by more than 70%, from an already low level.
Source: VARSS 2016
In 2017, records for 92% of the pigs going for slaughter had been added to the eMB, and showed usage had fallen again – this time by 28% to 131mg/PCU. This means use in the pig sector has halved in two years.
The pig sector also identified meaningful objectives for reducing, replacing or refining antibiotic use in October 2017.
They include reducing the use of antibiotics by more than 60% between 2015 and 2020, to reach less than 100mg/PCU by the end of 2020.
It is proposed that no specific targeted reduction in use of highest-priority Critically Important Antibiotics (HP-CIAs) should be set. Usage is already very low at 0.1mg/PCU (2017 figure). It is anticipated that the low level of use across the industry will not rise above levels of 0.1mg/PCU for fluoroquinolones and 0.015mg/PCU
for third/fourth generation cephalosporins – subject to disease control requirements and to ensure health and welfare. Colistin should however remain available in case of serious disease issues, for which its
use is vital, arising. A maximum use target of 0.1mg/PCU will provide for the necessary reserve position but this may need to be reviewed depending on the ongoing availability of therapeutic Zinc Oxide in the EU.